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On The Benefits of Winning, In Canada

September 3, 2012

After reading this post on the future of the Liberal party from fellow DemReform blogger and every hopeful Liberal over at Curiosity Cat, I found my response turned into it’s own blog post. A snippet:

Within a week or so of Trudeau`s announcement of his run, I expect opinion polls will show two major changes in the expectation of voters:
1.      A substantial change in the percentage of voters who will indicate their willingness to vote for the Liberal Party in the next election; and
2.      A major reverse migration of voters from the NDP…

Speak to Liberals in ridings across the country – there is a renaissance taking place, of the spirit. Deep within the Liberal soul, hidden from view for many a year, lies a ferocious love of country, coupled to sincere values which embrace all Canadians, and a primal lust for power.

That lust has been kindled by Harper’s nefarious ways, and especially by his stated desire to terminate the Liberal Party with extreme prejudice.

Now I’m not a big fan of trying to wipe out political parties, which I agree the Conservatives were trying to do, at least before last election. But I’m also not a big fan of the whole “lust for power” thing from any party. Of course, it’s true the NDP also badly want to win power, but the Liberal party needs to be careful not to further define themselves primarily as “A party that wants to govern”, rather than a group of committed people focussed on a particular set of policies and a philosophy of governing.

As a non-partisan, progressive voter, I don’t particularly care about the Liberal party’s history or it’s soul, if a party can be said to have a soul. I do care about standard Liberal policy planks such as universal childcare, the centrality of the Charter and sensible fiscal management. However, I also care about turning around Canada’s horrendous environmental record  and reviving our disfunctional democratic systems which are not things the Liberal party has a strong history with.

Maybe Trudeau could change all that but I just don’t have the faith that a Trudeau leadership would automatically be good for the country. He’s great as a person and even as a politician, so far as it goes. But Trudeau is so far untested as a leader and the next Liberal leader needs to be more than another example of the Liberal quick-leadership-fix strategy that they’ve tried for the past few elections.  I still haven’t seen anything that makes me believe Harper wouldn’t eat Trudeau alive or that the Liberal party knows how to make their case any better than they did last election. But maybe I’m missing something.

What progressive Canadians need to think about right now as they look towards the next election is how to win it, not necessarily how to get the Liberals to win it or even to do better. Maybe this isn’t something the parties themselves need to work out but it is something voters need to consider when supporting parties or nonpartisan organizations such as Lead NowThe Council of Canadians or FairVote.

We cannot afford to solidify the Conservative argument that they are better at governing by letting them win again. On that topic see John Hodgman’s stupendous post on the intrinsic political good of winning for it’s own sake.  He’s talking about the US situation and trying to convince progressive voters down there not to turn away from Obama just because he hasn’t satisfied all their hopes . He makes the point, which I agree with, that a Democratic loss would be an ideological defeat of everything Obama said he would do, not just what he actually did. In a similar way a major reverse against the NDP back in favour of the Liberals would be seen, ideologically and politically, as a defeat for that seismic shift of the last election and of everything Jack Layton stood for. In it’s place we would get a somewhat stronger Liberal party back but without necessarily any ideological meaning to it. What would it mean if the Liberals eked out more votes than the NDP next election and the Conservative still won another majority? The only conclusion most people, pundits or politicians would be able to draw is that everyone is happy with the way the Conservatives are running the country, which simply isn’t true.

I believe this mixed electoral outcome should be avoided at all costs, such a vindication would be dangerous. The Conservatives did not put in place most of the regulations that allowed Canada to weather the economic storm of the past few years yet they are taking all the credit for it. Meanwhile they are destroying our reputation around the world, gutting knowledge-based government decision making and making it harder to make any progress on global warming. This is ironic since Canada is going to be affected more than most nations as the ice caps continue to melt much faster than expected. A stronger way to send the message that the majority of Canadians disagree with this direction would be an NDP win, perhaps as a minority supported by the Liberal party, and of course, additional seats for the Green party.

Maybe hopeful Liberals are right and Trudeau would cause a large enough bump in Liberal fortunes to compete with the NDP. But if this jeopardizes the possibility of either of the major progressive, federalist parties from defeating the Conservatives then I think it would be a net loss for the country. Then again, second guessing those kinds of ramifications is a certain way to drive yourself mad.

The good news is we have a few years to figure it out, the bad news is we only have a few years to figure it out and that may still not be long enough to find a solution to this seemingly intractable problem.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Brachina permalink
    September 3, 2012 1:56 pm

    I understand what your concerns are, but the growing creepy messiah vibe amoung some Liberals should tell you all you need to know.

    Heck even bigcityliberal calls him teenage Jesus mockingly.

    Lets set aside the last names and look at hard facts about Justin vs. Mulcair.

    Mulcair has years and,years of experience at the Quebec provincial level in what is possibly the roughest and street fighting enviroment in Canadian politics. He was a cabinate Minister for the enviroment, parks, and, sustainable,development. He is widely held to have been the best and most progressive enviroment minister in North America, with a rep for both results and effiency. He rewrite part of Quebecs constitution to include enviromental protection!

    He been industry critic in Quebec amoung other critic roles so he has a wide breath of expertise in a multidude of files.

    He got into a major a battle with Charest over ethics and resigned from that government earning major respect for ethics from Quebecers, while ensuring none of Charest crap sticks to him.

    He then went on to win a Quebec Liberal stronghold for a party that basicly did not exist in Quebec at the time. He took it for the NDP.

    He then spent several years helping Jack build the NDP in Quebec, more often then not he was the day to day face for the NDP when Layton was leading in Ottawa or in Toronto.

    He was in the Quebec election ads before he was even leader with Jack.

    First he was the NDP fincance critic and then later house leader during a minority.

    Oh don’t forget deputy leader and Quebec Lt.

    Then 2011 came and he was in charge of turning a bunch green twenty somethings and a teenage into skilled and disciplined MPs (all though some MPs also had personal mentors), a mission he accomplismed.

    He then fought a 6 month gruelling campaign against major talents like Brian Topp, MP Finance critic Peggy Nash, Charismatic MP Nathan Cullen, Surpremely Lingual Niki Ashton, MP Romeo Saganash and others.

    He became leader and many said the party would die without Jack, others said he’d never unite the NDP behind him. The Party is doing,awesome under him, is focused and united, and leading in most polls.

    He was key in changing the national dialog on the Oil Sands and dutch disease, as well as turning public option against the Northern Gateway pipeline to the point were Tory minsters are distancing themselves from,Enbridge.

    His team is winning the battle to dump the F-junk fighter jets.

    He’s gone into the heart of Steven Harper territory, the Calagary Stempede and come off smelling like roses.

    He’s faced attacks, lies, and a butchering of his character in the media and come out on top.

    And that’s just within the first six months.

    He’s also a Lawyer experienced at making,arguements, anaylzoping evidence and poking,holes in the arguements of his oppentants.

    Justin on the other hand won a changelling race against a Bloc MP. I give critic wear its do.

    Oh he has the prestiagous critic role of sports critic!

    His dad was Prime Minister

    He appeared in a infomercial for the conservacy of Canada.

    And best of all he voted for Harper on key regressive bills and motions well over a hundred times. Did he get anything in exchange for supporting Harper anything to help Canadians? Nope. Nothing. It was all free love for Harper.

    Tom learned at the feet of Jack Layton

    Trudeau learned at the feet of Iggy and Dion.

    I do admit he has charisma. But Mulcair can be charming too, with a good sense of humour.

    So going toe to toe who do you think will come out on top?

    Lets be honest while Justin’s last name will ptovide a temp bump in the polls, in the end Mulcair will eat Justin alive.

  2. December 20, 2015 8:30 pm

    What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable familiarity regarding unpredicted feelings.

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