Oh, Canada

Captain Ed is all over the fall of the Liberal government in Canada and finds that the upcoming elections may well be a referendum on Tory leader Stephen Harper. For the uninitiated, the Gomery Inquest was an investigation into influence peddling by Canada’s ruling government that forced the Canadian Parliament to dissolve the government and call for new elections this January once the scope of the corruption was revealed.

Morrissey writes:

How likely is a return of Liberal rule after the Gomery disaster? After twelve years of Liberal control, first as a majority and then as the plurality in the Commons, the Tories bear the burden of convincing Canadians to cross the aisle–and Gomery alone may not be enough to break the Liberal hold on power. Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, has to convince voters that Tories offer more than just a gainsay of Liberal policies. Harper needs to deliver a “Morning in Canada” agenda, one that promises a transformation for the nation.

Already Harper has proposed a major tax cut for Canada, and is expected to launch his health-care policy prescriptions today. Harper may do well in Canada’s more conservative western provinces, but Quebec and Ontario remain bastions of leftism in Canada. Harper needs to be able to appeal to a wide spectrum of voters in order to knock off the ruling Liberal political establishment.

I agree with Captain Ed on this one: if Harper is to win, he has to take a look at the Reagan playbook. He has to appeal to a sense of Canadian greatness and purpose. And while we Yanks may laugh at the idea of Canada and greatness occupying the same sentence, Harper needs to appeal to the values of patriotism and present a positive agenda for the future of Canada. The Liberal government has become little more than a political machine, its only goal its own self preservation. Harper not only has to show that the current system does not work (which is clear from the no-confidence vote in Parliament), but that he has a positive agenda to do better.

Harper has a chance to undo the damage caused by years of Liberal rule in Canada, but he will have an uphill battle. Canada’s politics have become increasingly one-sided, and the Canadian right has been politically fragmented and unable to act as a coherent opposition for far too long. Harper’s got a big job ahead of him, but there is a chance that the Liberal’s domination of Canadian national politics may yet come to an end.

10 thoughts on “Oh, Canada

  1. In reading about Canadian politics (and I must confess I don’t do so frequently) it seems the parties are left of center, plain left, and far left of center. Is this true, is there no real conservative movement left in our neighbor to the north ? Was this all done by Chertain or did it occur much before that. I though Martin and Mulronny were at least nominal conservatives ? or what was it progressive conservatives tripe.
    Proud of his country can’t have that, how will that play in the UN ?

  2. Ray M, I asked a couple of Canucks last year how the American Republican Party compares with the Canadian Conservative Party. In both cases, their response was that George Bush and most other Republicans would get destroyed in every province, with the possible exception of Alberta where they expected the race would be closer but Bush would still lose.

  3. As far as Western style democracies we’re to the far right of everyone else, whereas Canada falls in line with most of the others that don’t have a death penalty (something we have in common with the most brutal regimes), have national health care, etc. Our Democrats in the US would be moderates or center-right in other Western nations and our Republican conservatives would never get very far, save for a few people like Jurgen Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie La Pen in France who always manage to find a few votes. Whether its refusing the metric system or embracing conservative politics, for better or worse, we are the ones that stand out from everyone else.

    Mark, I don’t know where you get the energy to keep up the good fight, but more power to you. I’ve had my submissions rejected too many times, so my participation here is probably done, or at least will be very infrequent. Too bad, it was kind of fun.

    Alex G. (Reality)

  4. Reality: You may be getting hit with a bug I accidentally introduced into the commenting system – a number of legitimate comments were getting flagged as spam.

    I disagree with 99% of your positions, but as long as your articulate them well and respectfully, you are always welcome to comment here. Besides, I haven’t kicked Mark’s sorry arse to the curb by now, so I’m obviously pretty tolerant… 🙂

  5. Reality, I’ve went through a couple periods of being banned here but I think the moderator likes to have a foil or two around to engage in hand-to-hand combat with, so myself and others who have been banned eventually get to return. I feel fortunate compared to Chet, who has been banned so many times that I’ve lost count, mostly because his retorts made the moderator look bad. In your case, it sounds as though it was a technical glitch. It’s understandable if you lose the energy to “keep up the good fight” at this specific blog as long as you’re sure to keep the fight alive on the ground where it counts most.

  6. A few things need to be addressed here.

    First off in order to win a majority in Canadian Parliament you need to be able to win Ontario. So far the Conservative Party has only made modest gains in Canada’s most populous province. In particular, the densly populated corridor from Toronto to Hamilton has always swung center left. This is where the Conservative Party needs to make gains.

    It also needs to divorce itself from being simply a party of Western Canadian interests. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein has talked about building a political firewall insulated Edmonton from Ottawa’s interference. This sort of talk makes Conservatives look bitter and is very divisive.

    In Quebec, I expect gains from the Bloc Quebecois. Gilles Duceppe is a very shrewd politician. In the last federal election he played down sovergnity issues and instead focused on delivering for Quebec. It is clear that the Jean Chretien Liberal government did some very devious and unethical things in order to try to convince Quebecois to remain in the confederation. He now has his stick to beat federalists with. The gloves will come off. This is also in the wake of a new leader for the provincial Parti Quebecois. Young Andre Bosclair is a homosexual and charismatic and will hopefully rekindle interest in a party that will play on the unpopularity of Liberal Premier Jean Charest.

    Stephen Harper needs to play down the homosexual marriage issue. It’s not something most Canadians fear and if he sticks with it he will be accused of having a hidden agenda and will be unlikely to capture the majority. His strongest issues are on reforming the anemic health care system and on decentralizing government. Playing a federalist card could win him sympathy in Quebec, since many soft nationalists simply want more devolution from Ottawa. The Conservative Party has been united now for its 2nd election and this is its best chance to gain power.

    Look for lots of squirming from Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. Also look for lots of nonsense to be spewed from Jack Layton of the socialist New Democratic Party. It will be a bitter campaign, quite dirty. And apart from the Gomery Report/Sponsorship Scandal resolution, there are no new issues that weren’t there 17 months ago. Lots of Canadians will be very annoyed by this, annoyed enough perhaps to give Paul Martin the boot.

  7. Just out of curiosity, Justin Paul (or anyone else able to answer), how would you rank the provinces in terms of political affilation? How do British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba compare to Alberta in terms of conservatism? How about Northwest Territories and Yukon? And how about the far eastern provinces like Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick? Canadian politics are generally far from fascinating, but I’m still interested in the red-blue divide.

  8. In my opinion, Canadian politics I find to be far more compelling than American politics, atleast when it comes to parties and individual charachters. We have had nothing in the past 3 decades that has come close to a constitutional crisis such as the Canadians had with Quebec. Also I would advise you to look into Pierre Trudeau, he gave some very memorable interviews. Also the general level of discourse in Canadian parliament is quite close to that found in the UK, and as such more entertaining than watching a US Senate session.

    Generally Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba are more conservative. British Columbia is conservative in its smaller cities, but certainly not in Vancouver. The Atlantic provinces are more to the NDP, further left of the Liberals. The decline in the maritime industries has brought about their support for the welfare state. Quebec of course teeters between the Liberal Party and the Parti Quebecois. Conservatives have usually polled poorly in Quebec, though they did support Brian Mulroney because he offered them a great deal of devolution. The Conservative-Quebec Nationalist alliance was very brief and essentially a one-off.

  9. It should be noted that Saskatchewan and Manitoba are not as conservative as Alberta. The Liberals have carried Manitoba before. Saskatchewan Politics were interesting for a while in the 90’s when the Saskatchewan Party emerged with center-right interests being advanced on a more local level. British Columbia has been carried by the NDP in the past, and seems to teeter back in forth. It was also notable for having the first Asian Premier, in Ujal Donsajh (he is a Sikh). Nunavut interestingly enough does not allow people to run affiliated by party. For the Nunavut assembly everyone is an independent.

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