Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seeing the Future

Robin Sears has an interesting piece in this morning's Huffington Post. Those who are predicting the demise of the Liberal Party should read it. Sears' take is particularly interesting, given his deep roots among New Democrats:

It is facile to suggest that faced with surging social democrats on their left and entrenched conservatives on their right that there is no place for a third party in between. If that were true, the Liberal Party of Canada would long ago have faced this squeeze play.

No, the reality is that a series of bad choices in leadership, a decline in support in its previous bastion of Quebec, and flukes of circumstance have reduced one of Canada's great parties.

A strong new leader, with a strong contemporary vision, could well seize ground back from a fading second-term Conservative government, or an undisciplined NDP Opposition. Let us assume that such a powerful man or woman can be recruited by new, wiser elders of the Liberal party than those whose idea of good political leadership hunting ground was Oxbridge and the Ivy League.

The Conservatives bridge to the future is essentially a return to the past -- when life (supposedly) occurred in straight lines and the population was smugly complacent. The future for the New Democrats will probably be something like life for Brian Mulroney's Conservatives. Jack Layton will have to work hard to hold his coalition together -- and it will always exist on a knife's edge: capable of fracturing at any moment.

Those conditions provide an opening for the Liberals, writes Sears. The key lies in figuring out how to overhaul the 21st century nation state:

A new Canadian Liberal leader cannot out-promise other opposition parties, nor can he claim better governance or fiscal chops than a conservative government. But there is a huge unsatisfied political hunger among middle-class voters for a leader with a credible message of reform in the delivery of services in health, education, public safety and innovation.

Bob Rae's task is to set the stage for such a leader. It is an enormous responsibility.


thwap said...

I wasn't going to read the guy at the link because i'm about to stop my political blog surfing for today, ... but I can't resist taking the time to tell you that the guy has discredited himself by writing this:

"A new Canadian Liberal leader cannot out-promise other opposition parties, nor can he (sic) claim better governance or fiscal chops than a conservative government."

Anyone who credits the harpercons with good governance and fiscal chops hasn't been paying attention.

Owen Gray said...

I understand why that line bothers you; and I have maintained elsewhere that the idea that Harper is a competent fiscal manager is a myth.

I suspect that Harper may regret his recent trip to Greece, where he preached financial austerity. Something tells me that there are tens of thousands of Europeans who will make Harper and other "wise men" the target of their protests.

Be that as it may, I still think that Sears' argument that the Liberals need to think long and hard about the role of government in this century carries a lot of weight.