Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Doing The Corporate Dance

The Liberal Party's traditional strategy of campaigning from the left and governing from the right led the late Rene Levesque to conclude that the party was "the biggest whorehouse in the world." Now, Paul Adams writes, the party seems to be campaigning from the right:

Martha Hall Findlay calls for an end to supply management.
Marc Garneau wants to open up telecommunications to foreign investment.

And most important — because he appears to be an almost prohibitive front-runner — Justin Trudeau has tried to outflank the Harper Conservatives in welcoming offshore money to the oilpatch. His website has many repetitions of his “pro-growth” mantra, but almost no mention of climate change. He has even gone to Calgary to trash his father’s National Energy Program.

The Liberals have always had close ties to Bay Street. But Adams correctly notes that, until recently, they effectively bridged the gulf between right and left:

The Liberals built their 20th century dynasty by bridging the divide between left and right. The party’s left-leaning social policies took the party where the votes were, but its right wing was also key. No other party in the world was as successful at the straddle — and there were many others that tried.

Now their strategy seems to be to sell themselves as "new and improved" versions of Stephen Harper. In fact, that was Michael Ignatieff's sales pitch -- and it landed the  party in third place. You'd think that performance would have caused some real soul searching among Liberals.That exercise has yet to take place.

And there is already one party that does the corporate dance better than they do.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is hard to imagine the Liberals finding a distinctive place for themselves on the political spectrum between the Harperites on the right and the NDP on the left.

I hope some party decides the environment and climate change is the most important issue for Canada and all humanity. The Conservatives are regressive on this issue. They have brought shame on us all. Any progress in this area has been made by the Provincial governments.

kirbycairo said...

I have just been shaking my head in bewilderment at the rush by the Liberal candidates to occupy the far right. It is amazing that they are pushing even further to the right than Iggy did. What in the world are they thinking??? The further right they have gone the more votes they lost. (Someone should do a graph to illustrate the point.)

Oh well, I suppose it can only be good news for the NDP.

Owen Gray said...

Quite true, Philip. There has been a complete void when it comes to federal environmental policy.

In fact, progressive social policies -- like day care -- have been developed by the provinces, not the Harperites.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Kirby. It's an exercise in self-immolation.

Lorne said...

I read a story in the Star this morning, Owen, in which it becomes clear that Justin Trudeau has no intention of articulating policy in this leadership race. He says that he wants to 'listen' to what Canadians have to say. Your post suggests very clearly who has his ear and the ears of the other candidates.

Owen Gray said...

Political parties can die, Lorne -- even ones with long and storied histories.

As Peter Newman suggests, we may be witnessing the death of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Anonymous said...

Witnessing the death of the Liberal Party? We are witnessing the death of our country.Are we all not seeing, the death of Canada, right in our faces obvious?

In what way, does this country belong to Canadians anymore? We don't even have the right, to our own damned Canadian jobs. We dare not fight for those jobs? China has the right to sue, if we do oppose. China sued in BC for the mining jobs.

Because, the Federal election was tampered with? We don't even know if Harper, even has the right to be P.M.

This country isn't Canada anymore. Democracy is vanishing. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken from us. Our Freedom of Speech under threat. Our Human Rights are being eroded.

Our F.N. Human Rights are no different than, the poor people of China's are.

Canada is a dictatorship. This country is just as corrupt as every third world country is. Canada is no different than other dictatorship country's, governed by tyrants.

janfromthebruce said...

"I hope some party decides the environment and climate change is the most important issue for Canada and all humanity."
Tossing Pebbles, the NDP has and con'ts to push the environment and climate change to the front - in fact, prior to Christmas, Mulcair could quite a bit of heat from the MSM for this re: oil sands unsustainable development in Alberta.

Owen Gray said...

If our opposition parties -- as well as the government -- choose to do the bidding of the corporate elite, Anon, we have no hope of restoring democracy to this country.

Owen Gray said...

My hunch, Jan, is that the Idle No More movement -- with Charlie Angus's help -- will keep the environment front and centre.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ TPS - Canada does have a party that has always placed the environment and climate change as the top priority for Canada. We call it the Green Party of Canada. Check out the party's web site. Read its clear policy platforms (you won't find the Libs or NDP taking that risk) and decide for yourself.

And, despite what Jan claims, the NDP on environmentalism is opportunistic at best and largely disingenuous. They're now Latter Day Liberals no matter how much Jan likes to pretend they're not.

As for the Liberals and their march to the right, they can and richly deserve to die there.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect that the Idle No More Movement will shake things up, Mound.

It's kind of hard to predict at this point how the shakeout will change the political culture. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Green Party came out of the shakeout looking like viable alternative.

But I also suspect that the Greens will have to partner with one of the opposition parties.