The failure on Sunday evening of efforts to form a coalition government seriously increases the chances that Greece will default, which in a way only makes things worse for Canada’s Liberals.
It appears certain, now, that the developed world is in the middle of a dark decade, with neither the Americans nor the Europeans able to shake off the economic shocks of 2008 and 2009. It could be many years before we see a return to sustained robust growth. This is why the only question that matters for any politician anywhere is how to protect the economy. In Canada, Liberals are having trouble answering that question.
In Quebec, students are confronting the Liberal Charest government ostensibly over tuition, but really over who governs. The province appears to be once again bifurcating into a confrontation of sovereigntists and social democrats against federalists and centrists. (Genuine conservatives in Quebec are a very rare breed.) Only now it’s the economy, rather than independence, that dominates the debate.
In Ontario, a minority Liberal government navigates uncertainly between the demands of creditors and opposition parties to the left and right as it struggles to balance its budget.
In British Columbia, Premier Christy Clark is openly musing about changing her party’s name in what many see as a bid to co-opt the surging Conservative Party, even as the NDP under Adrian Dix is poised to reap the vote split.
The same thing is happening at the national level. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair argues that Canada’s burgeoning natural-resource sector should be constrained because it is pushing up the Canadian dollar and hurting manufacturing.
The Western premiers and the federal Conservatives are united in saying he’s daft. But whether Mr. Mulcair is right or wrong, he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are shaping the debate over where the country should go.
The Conservatives are happy to see the electorate polarized between themselves and the NDP. They know that in other polarized environments, Conservatives win more than lose. Republicans have held the White House for 36 of the past 60 years; Conservatives have been in 10 Downing Street for 37 of the past 60; the Liberal (really conservative) Party in Australia has governed for 38.
Let deconstruct this piece...
First, the Liberal Party of Canada is not, never was, and never will be the same entity as the provincial parties.
Second, the "protect the economy" thesis on which this piece is based is nothing more nor less than more neo-con dogma, based on the extremely faulty premise that we all live FOR the economy, not the other way round, as most thinking individuals prefer.
Third, the manichean "either-or" that Mr. Ibbitson sets out with his conservatives on one side and the "daft" NDP on the other side, is another of the right's preferred binary choices, given their addiction and worship at the altar of the digits on a balance sheet.
Fourth, to equate the Liberal Party of Canada with the country and/or the government of Greece, is nothing more than a greasy slime-ball hurled from the pretense of power, both Mr. Ibbitson's and the Harper conservatives for whom he should be receiving some political if not pecuniary gain.
Fifth, to reduce the potential leadership candidates for the Liberal Party to another "either-or" of Rae or Trudeau, is to insult all the members of the party, and all of Mr. Ibbitson's readers, who will be more open to the possibility of a significant number of candidates, including Martha Hall Finlay, who is already rumoured to be considering a second run.
Sixth, to presume that, within the membership of the Liberal Party of Canada, there is not, and will not be an articulated, detailed and pragmatic proposal for dealing with the major issues of the day, including:
- the balance of the economy with the generation of business profits, something the Harper government seems incapable of doing, as if it cannot walk and chew gum at the same time
- the need to provide creative and pragmatic funding for the long-term sustainability of the National Health Care system, including national standards of care as an integral part of the play, and including new ways of supporting the medical professions, with national income grids, for example, so that each province is not competing with all the other provinces and territories
- the need to open the parliamentary system to public disclosure and debate, for the purpose of educating the electorate, and of opening the system to eliminate both secrecy and a lack of accountability that seems to haunt the current government
- the need to negotiate fair trade, including enforceable provisions for fair working conditions, and environmental standards in all of Canada's trade agreements
- the need to restore the principle of legitimate rehabilitation of criminals, of the right of judges to discretionary sentences, and the need to provide health care for refugees
- the need to restore the principle of immigration based not exclusively or even primarily on the dictates of the marketplace...and to integrate legitimately qualified newcomers to practice in their field of training, opening the closed doors of several professions, closed with the complicity of the government
- the need to enhance Canada's performance in the field of foreign aid, without restrictions that do not apply to Canadian women, for example, in the provision of that aid
- the need to partner with non-profits, and with for-profit companies in a concerted effort to build bridges to the developing world....
- the need to restore the national government's activity participation in the arts and education of Canadians, beyond science and math, important as they are, so that our history and culture are preserved, and not merely a military slice of that history
- to restore the right to collective bargaining, with clear limits on the power of unions, without dismantling their effectiveness and their advocacy for legitimate worker abuses
And, the Liberal Party will also ensure that Canada regain her lost stature among the world community, not for her military might and a few missiles in Lybia and 1000 soldiers in Afghanistan, but in a policy and program development in the interests of solving international issues with creative proposals for collaboration in the solution of global problems.
No, Mr. Ibbitson, the Liberal Party of Canada is not even closely analogous to Greece, despite the numbers of votes it received and the number of seats in the House of Commons it occupies.