Thursday, 22 October 2015


Monday night’s election, which made Justin Trudeau Prime Minister-elect, should serve as a reminder to all elected governments that the public will sink their ship if they persist on the wrong course.

Every citizen isn’t a policy wonk or a political junkie, but the collective has a way of understanding when they are being led astray.

Of course, the problem wasn’t just policy; it was about tone, too.

Throughout Canada, Stephen Harper grated on our collective nervous system; like a rusty hinge on an old gate, he became more aggravating at every turn. The Senate, corruption in the PMO, the restriction of rights in favour of imagined security threats, an abuse of Parliament, and the contradictions that accompany ‘tough on crime, tough on drugs’ as he kisses up to Ford Nation.

He had to go.

In times such as these, even the economy takes a second place - which it did.
The federal Liberals would do well to understand the reality of why Harper lost.
Political veteran John Crosbie, when asked for comment by local media recently, commented voters were in the mood for change after 10 years of Harper Government. That is like saying change occurred because the public were bored.

In fact, the contrary is true. They were galvanized to act!

The award of a majority government to the Liberal Party, which won only 34 Seats in the last election, was a display of unbridled unified determination. Rarely does the public, from coast to coast, express open antipathy towards a Prime Minister, using words and phrases eerily similar.

Rather than bored, they were impatient enough that ten per cent of voters cast their ballot in the advance polls!

Indeed, a solid argument can be made this election ought to have been over economic issues given Canada’s increasingly poor economic statistics. But, no one heard Justin offer a better economic platform or hold up new ideas, except more spending (an old idea) for improving Canada’s (especially central Canada’s) moribund economy. No one expected an economic program from him, anyway.

Truth is voters were so dam mad at Harper’s attitude and antics they exhibited anything but boredom, even setting aside the very issues with which they are normally preoccupied.
Perhaps, Crosbie was trying to be glib but his comments did not reflect the striking clash of values that have increasingly set Harper against Canadians of the political center.

Likely, the rift caused many voters aligned with the NDP to abandon that Party. It is tough to draw any conclusion other than that they were unwilling to take a chance the third party had only temporarily found Jesus in its historic lurch to the right.

The public may not know the intricacies of policy, but they recognize and understand values.  They have spelled out, in the clearest terms to Justin Trudeau, the kind of Canada they want and the value system they expect him to be guided by.

An excellent editorial by John Ibbitson of the Globe and Mail "How Harper Created A More Conservative Canada" suggests both Trudeau and Mulcair were stuck with Harper’s policies anyway, regardless of which one got elected.  He argues Canada’s immigrants represent a major influence on Harper’s right-wing politics.

But Ibbitson doesn’t consider the role of leadership expected of a Prime Minister when values are at risk. Nor does he note that views become hardened when racist attitudes are incited by someone of the PM’s stature.

The Conservative Party of Canada is in need of change. Now that Harper is effectively gone, the “progressive” wing which Harper, and his ilk, alienated in favour of a group who have earned various nomenclature, including “wing-nuts”, must take over.
What was John and Ches Crosbie doing among that lot, anyway?

The ballot box can be a blunt instrument; just ask Jack Harris and Ryan Cleary.
Earle McCurdy is right. The Liberal sweep implies Newfoundland and Labrador is absent an alternative voice; one capable of giving a critical perspective to partisan interests.

There is no depth to which politicians will not go in the interest of partisan fealty. The stain on the provincial Liberals for their slavish support of Trudeau, the elder, and Jean Chretien at a time when the Atlantic Accord was being sought, can never be erased.  More recently, the absolutely miserable job the Dwight Ball Liberals offered, in Opposition, is a reminder what is lost when partisan conflicts submerge public interests.

Then, too, a sweep for the Liberals, federally, will likely be joined, after the provincial election, by a Liberal victory proportionately even larger.

There will be little room for the truth; even less for an airing of competing views.
That is a price we will have to bear until alternative governing parties, in this case the Tories at both levels, have experienced reincarnation. (I have deliberately avoided the word “reform”.)

Indeed, optimism that the province has gained additional leverage by sending seven Liberals to join Justin, should be checked.

Voters in Nova Scotia sent 11 Liberals to Ottawa; Ontario 80, and Quebec 40.
If any crumbs are sprinkled this way, they will have been filtered by Nova Scotia first, after they were picked over by central Canada.

Make sure you listen when your seven Liberal MPs make a big deal of tiny victories.
Some things never change!

But, then, this election was about getting rid of Stephen Harper.

The people of this province will have to be happy with just that much.