Sunday, April 10, 2005

 

A week is a long time in politics.

This old adage is proving to be loaded with truth. Canadian politics has not seen a week like this in a long, long time and it appears to be just heating up. Jean Brault, same-sex legislation and the long awaited Kyoto plan. It is shaping up to be quite a gong show in Ottawa.

In fact, the Bloc Quebecois are rumoured to be considering tableling a non-confidence motion in the House sometime this week. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are revving up their election engines, the Liberals are sputtering and the NDP is silent. There are, however, two main issues that need to be examined further before we all going spinning off into election fever. One, the Conservatives constant ability to shoot themselves in the foot. Two, Paul Martin's ability to disappoint so many, so fast and so often.

Do not get me wrong the Conservatives have made great strides in a short time. They have managed to keep a lid on the radical element (i.e. Randy White) of the party and even convinced members to moderate policies with an eye to governing (the Federal NDP could learn from this). They, however, have not managed to hit a convincing knockout punch on the Liberals. Why?

The Conservatives seem to be fixated on present (social) issues rather than defining what future issues should be. For example, they would be well-served to voice their collective displeasure with the proposed legislation to change the definition of marriage AND move on. This is a dead issue. There is nothing that Stephen Harper can do. Sure he can stand there and make all kinds of claims, but at the end of the day it will not matter.

Instead Harper should be out defining what a Conservative government would do for Canada. What would their 3 priorities be? I would guess them to be: smaller government, lower taxes and more military spending. These seem to be their main issues, but damned if one could tell. In fact, during the last election they were the party with the most expensive platform. The Conservatives get too easily distracted on social issues and that will be their Achilles Heel. The Liberals will continue to paint them as bogeymen and possessing a hidden agenda until they drop the need to act like social gatekeepers. If the Liberals continue to do this they stand a chance, whenever the next election takes place. Unless of course my second point overcomes the party.

I am not sure that there has been a bigger disappointment in the history of Canadian Prime Ministers than Paul Martin. The Gomery Inquiry has not helped, but he is a Liberal. Mr.Martin has never met an issue that he doesn't anoint as his number one priority. Maybe the problem is the country has a surplus and he can only operate during times of deficit.

Martin, all things considered, did a good job as Finance Minister during the Chr├ętien years. He had a steady hand and often said "no" to stakeholders. Now, all bets are off. A Premier takes down the flag - cave and transfer him boatloads of money! Canadian voters are left as the big losers in this day and age. Why is this?

The Conservatives are stuck chasing their tails and will inform us that they are not the Liberals and thus can provide clean and honest government. This is a borrowed line from George W. Bush, when mentioning the Clinton Years, and we know how that experiment is turning out for the US.

The Liberals are battered, bruised and their leader does not exude confidence. A terrible trifecta. In fact, it is probably time for the party to be sent to the bench to regroup and recharge. Yet, they are still competitive.

The Bloc aren't an option if you actually love Canada.

The NDP needs a road map, badly. They have acres of space on the left, but appear to satisfied drifting and letting big, Ontario labour call the shots. They would be wise to take a page out of Gary Doer and Roy Romanow's books and provide a fiscal responsibility plan with a social focus.

Bring on the election so that the Marxist-Leninist or Mary Jane party can get some votes and send the system a message.

Comments:
This is a great post - nice assessment of the political scene in Ottawa. You're obviously well connected to the happenings of federal politics - I appreciated your thoughts.
 
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