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.
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.