Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Red magic

Generally speaking, I'm a Liberal supporter. I've voted Liberal in most (although not all) elections, and by and large, they're the party that best reflects my own views on social progressiveness and fiscal pragmatism.

Even so, I have to confess I'm perplexed by their recent rise in the polls since they hung on by the skin of their teeth in last month's confidence vote. At the moment, they're well ahead of the Tories in nearly all parts of the country. I'm not sure how to account for this. I'm not being smug, though, when I suggest it really could come down to Stephen Harper and how the Tories are perceived.

First of all, there's the lingering sense that Harper's some kind of throwback to Bible Bill Aberhart. I believe that most Canadians, regardless of whether they support or oppose gay marriage, would really rather leave that up to individual people to decide, rather than have a decision forced upon them. Canadians probably aren't the most libertarian bunch in the world but I still get the feeling there's a hesitancy among us to brick people up with legislated norms. That seems too American. That's the kind of thing "they" do... define what's "American" and then fight to put everyone who doesn't agree on the other side of a legislated line. This is a country that endures a separatist party in Parliament, after all.

Secondly, there's this regional aspect to it. More and more, it looks like a grudge match between Alberta and everyone else. The rest of us seem to bend and sway with the breezes, but not them. Having staked their claim, they're bound and determined to have their way. If they don't, they blame Ontario. They blame Quebec. They blame everyone else. But everyone else seems capable of electing other parties. In my voting lifetime, Ontario has elected Conservative, Liberal, and NDP governments. It has helped elect Conservative and Liberal federal governments. When was the last time Alberta had a non-Tory provincial government, or didn't largely vote Tory or Reform federally? Their attitudes are carved in stone, but the rest of us, we're the problem. The idea has been creeping in, particularly since the Reform Party (Alliance, whatever) hijacked the Tories, that the Conservatives are the Bloc Alberta, trying to recruit outside Calgary. As long as it's perceived that way, support even in the rest of the West, particularly B.C., is going to be soft. The Tories really need to find a leader who sounds like he or she is speaking for Canada and addressing the issues of Alberta, instead of the other way around. Alberta already has a provincial Tory party. The CPC is supposed to be the federal one.

I think the third problem for the Tories is the whole Grewal thing. The Tories have been making the Sponsorship Scandal their bread and butter for a long time now. Sleaze, corruption, moral bankruptcy! Then along comes Grewal with his claims that the Grits offered him a cabinet position if he'd cross the floor. Shocking! Scandalous! Till we found out that not only had he gone to them on a fishing expedition and been told it wasn't that simple, but that he fabricated evidence to support his charges. Kickbacks are bad enough, but fraud and blackmail aren't just whistling Dixie either. So now Canadians are left with a choice between a sleazy Liberal government they know can run the country and balance the books, and a potential sleazy Tory government of unknown ability, along with a lot of disquieting talk of banning this, disallowing that, etc., etc., etc. Given the choice, it's not hard to see why they resign themselves to their fallback position.

I don't know what's going to happen in the long run. Canadians have to be a little fed up with the Grits. But they don't trust the NDP with their credit cards and the Tories seem too much like they want everyone to read the Bible and go to bed early. So I think we're looking at low voter turn-out, and likely the Liberals holding on, unless the Gomery Inquiry really digs up a body or something (literally). I know I admitted I generally support the Liberals, and I don't like the idea of kickbacks, but I can't be the only Canadian who, when they heard the money involved was $1.9 million, secretly thought, "What, that's it?" Yes, I know there's a principle involved, but still... you wouldn't quit your job these days if that's all you won in the lottery.

13 comments:

RobfromAlberta said...

More and more, it looks like a grudge match between Alberta and everyone else. The rest of us seem to bend and sway with the breezes, but not them

And yet, you seem so resistant to letting us leave Confederation. Wouldn't everyone else be happier once we're gone?

Lone Primate said...

We'd be happier if you didn't all seem to think with one head.

RobfromAlberta said...

You're no different. Sure, you send a few Conservative MPs to Ottawa, but only ones like Belinda Stronach who are virtually indistinguishable from Liberals.

As for the provincial government, you may be surprised to know that I voted Liberal in the last two elections. The provincial Liberals even won three seats in Calgary last time, an amazing result for them. It's hard for the provincial Liberals to shake off the burden of being associated with the federal party, but they are making progress. A name change is being considered.

G said...

It's the way Harper conducted himself during the sponsorship mess that's done it. Grewel is only the icing on the cake.

The plummet started with Harper's tantrums and name-calling, and occurred en masse as the CPCs walked out of 3 straight Parliamentary sessions, wasting taxpayer money. Their fate was sealed when Belinda, to many the real face of the party, left for the Liberals, taking a large % of the female undecided vote with her.

Grewel? That was just a bonus. Sort of like the $45 beauty contest winnings in Monopoly's Community Chest. Nice to have, but really doesn't make any difference at all.

Lone Primate said...

As for the provincial government, you may be surprised to know that I voted Liberal in the last two elections. The provincial Liberals even won three seats in Calgary last time, an amazing result for them. It's hard for the provincial Liberals to shake off the burden of being associated with the federal party, but they are making progress. A name change is being considered.

So Alberta actually managed to elect a few Liberals in spite of the fact that they're crippled by being associated with a party favoured by other Canadians? Yes... a ringing endorsement of the adaptability and range of opinion of Albertans; it speaks volumes of their commitment to the countrymen outside their boundaries.

Lone Primate said...

The plummet started with Harper's tantrums and name-calling, and occurred en masse as the CPCs walked out of 3 straight Parliamentary sessions, wasting taxpayer money.

You know, at first, I was just concerned that the Liberals had messed up so bad that a change of government was in the works. But Harper was like a kid on his first date. He was so worried about scoring that it became the end in itself. It wasn't lost on me, or anyone else, I think, that his tune changed day to day. No we wont yes we will no we mustn't yes we must Canadians refuse Canadians demand... I realize all politicians want power, but his drooling was really unseemly, and I think it turned people off. If the Tories are going to form a government that lasts, they need to find a person with more patience and self-restraint... if Harper had been willing to bide his time and wait for the report, or muster his forces to bring a non-confidence vote in the fall, I think he would have done better. He might wind up PM yet, but if he does, I doubt it'll be for long.

G said...

Nah ... he's lost too much to regain at this point. No one wants a child as leader. There was a point during the sponsorship scandal where the boys were separated from the men; Harps stood on one side while Martin and especially Layton (seemed the only guy trying to get something relevant done) came out on the other. And that's the part everyone will remember come election day, whenever the hell it will be.

G said...

I say that watching the Harper bashing in the Conservative mecca of Southern Ontario, aka London.

Lone Primate said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lone Primate said...

There was a point during the sponsorship scandal where the boys were separated from the men; Harps stood on one side while Martin and especially Layton (seemed the only guy trying to get something relevant done) came out on the other.

I couldn't agree more. What impressed me was how some people put aside ambition to find reason. Carolyn Parrish had every reason, at least from her own point of view, to take an opportunity to crush Martin and send the country into a distructive election. But she didn't. She saw the bigger picture, got up under threat of cancer, and supported the government. Chuck Cadman, too, who owed the Grits nothing, stood up and supported the government because he got the sense from his constituency that the country didn't want an election. Most of the rest of the Commons voted the way they were told to, but I have to turn to these folks, who had no flag to champion, for an indication of where better judgement pointed the average Canadian. Harper might have done the same and pushed for a budget more to his own liking, but instead he behaved like a starving dog. It'll take a lot to rebuild his fortunes.

RobfromAlberta said...

they're crippled by being associated with a party favoured by other Canadians?

Have yopu actually read anything I have posted before or am I just wasting bandwidth? The Liberals stole billions from this province when they introduced the NEP. The Liberal Party of Canada declared war on Alberta. It has nothing to do with political inflexibility. If a guy burns down your house and steals your car, maybe you get over the anger eventually, but you sure as hell don't vote for him to be your city councillor.

RobfromAlberta said...

Carolyn Parrish had every reason, at least from her own point of view, to take an opportunity to crush Martin and send the country into a distructive election.

Or maybe it's because she held out hope of being admitted back into the Liberal party. I'm just saying...

RobfromAlberta said...

Chuck Cadman, too, who owed the Grits nothing, stood up and supported the government because he got the sense from his constituency that the country didn't want an election

....And he has an axe to grind with the Conservatives because he used to be the Alliance MP for his riding and was pushed aside in the nomination process for the last election. Everyone has an agenda.