Friday, January 25, 2013

Leading The Lemmings

It's disappointing to listen to the federal Liberals these days. With the exception of Joyce Murray and Martin Cauchon, they're all saying the same thing. Their chorus confirms that they have learned nothing over the last decade. They insist on being Harper-lite.

Michael Ignatieff tried that and it didn't work out well. Stephane Dion had a radical program. But he was a poor salesman -- particularly in English Canada. Their candidates this time around are more fluent in both languages. But their policies are thread bare. Paul Adams wrote earlier this week:

Forget the market crisis of 2008 that plunged the world into economic turmoil. Forget the inequality and insecurity that is gutting the middle classes. Forget the fact that climate change, building slowly but inexorably, is on a completely different time scale from that of the executive pay and bonuses which are the embodiment of short-term economic thinking.

Essentially, the Liberals have ignored the lessons of the Great Recession -- and they have turned a blind eye to climate change. Worse still, they refuse to acknowledge that the two crises are joined at the hip. Solutions to both crises will require an active and committed federal government, which goes beyond what Adams calls "rights liberalism" -- abortion rights, perhaps the right to smoke marijuana. Unfortunately,

What this economically-conservative/socially-liberal formula jettisons is the legacy of the Liberal party from William Lyon Mackenzie King through Paul Martin of providing security to ordinary Canadians using the power of the state: pensions, medicare and unemployment insurance.

That  vision was last expressed in the Kelowna Accord, which the Harperites trashed. Those who wonder why Theresa Spence was camped out on Victoria Island should read their history -- their recent history. Unfortunately, most of the party's candidates haven't done that.

They are in a race to lead the lemmings.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

We certainly have a lot of needs and issues in Canada for a political party to fashion a platform around. At the top of the list should be the environment particularly with an eye to climate change, how to slow it as well as how to adapt to it. It is also long past due for Canada to a lot of high speed rail transportation beginning with connecting major urban area. Hopefully this would replace a lot a road travel and short haul air travel to benefit the environment. The government can stop funding old technology like the car industry and the oil industry. If the government is to fund anything it should be future technologies. The Harper government has legislated a lot that another party could and should reverse.

Owen Gray said...

True, Philip. If anything, the Harper government is working from an economic model established in the 19th century. It wants to return to the days when Canadians were hewers of wood and drawers of water.

If the Liberals are smart, they will look to the future.

The Mound of Sound said...

Paul Adams is partly right. The last true Liberal leader was Paul Martin only he was dragged under by the legacy and scandals of his predecessor.

I don't know how Adams can claim the Libs are socially liberal. If they were they would rally behind the environment, inequality (of wealth and opportunity) and the green economy. Yet, with the exception of Murray, they're all committed to the petro-state.

Sure they're pro-choice and want more funding for the arts and day care but, given the challenges facing our young people and the generations to follow them, those old saws are all but irrelevant.

They don't want to earn their way back but, instead, demonstrate they consider themselves entitled to be restored to power by virtue of not being the other guy. The brutal fact is they don't have the guts to stand up for and defend progressivism. Some, like Hall-Findlay don't even have a trace of those instincts.

The Mound of Sound said...

As a westerner I have long endorsed the same idea as Philip on rail transit. A high speed line on the Quebec to Windsor corridor but even more importantly a modern, dual track line from Vancouver to Toronto.

Having travelled the 401 by motorcycle from coastal BC into central Ontario a couple of times it is disconcerting to realize the immense volume of truck traffic it carries.

Modern locomotive technology can move freight with about 40% the emissions of truck traffic. Trucks should be limited, in most cases, to shuttling freight to the nearest rail depot.

When the Great Recession befell Canada in 2008 the government, with the then official opposition likewise asleep at the wheel, missed a golden opportunity to launch a new railway initiative as a powerful stimulus investment.

Owen Gray said...

I have to agree with you, Mound. The first vote I cast was for Pierre Trudeau.

But the party has gone far astray since its rallying cry was "A Just Society."

Owen Gray said...

It's too bad, Mound, that the parties were so self absorbed that they couldn't see the obvious. They didn't have to start from scratch, as Macdonald did.

All they needed to do was improve what they already had.

Anonymous said...

Justin Trudeau, and the majority of the leadership contenders, seem to make making the same mistake Iggy made all over again.

As Iggy found out, Cons supporters will not vote for Harper lite when they have the real McCoy. Poll after poll have established that many, if not most, Cons supporters will not vote for another party. Thus for the Libs to hope to attract some of these Cons votes is like someone who keeps bashing his own head against a wall. Chances are his head will give way before the wall. Perhaps someone needs to explain this to them ... but then, lemmings do what they do, don't they?

In contrast to the above, poll after poll have established that many Lib voters do consider voting for the the NDP/Greens. Thus, as with Iggy, another Harper lite will likely ensure that the progressive votes they had already lost are gone forever. Justin was supposed to bring back the progressive votes, no?

The net result of all this is a splitting of non Cons votes and the Harper Party remains in power. Amen.

Owen Gray said...

I fear you're right, Anon. Canadians are looking for a truly progressive alternative.

It would appear that the Liberals are determined not to provide one.

Anonymous said...

Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell forgot to tell the BC citizens, he worked for Harper and his so called Conservatives. Campbell sold BC out to Communist China long ago....among other dubious dastardly deeds. Harper rewarded Campbell, the post of High Commissioner to England.

Christy Clark also works for Harper. Boessenkool works for Harper, and lobbied for the Enbridge pipeline. Christy Clark hired him, to work for her. The BC Libs and the BC Cons, flit back and forth across the floor. They have interchangeable parts or, one size fits all. They and Harper's Cons, are one and the same party. It is impossible to tell them apart.

Read. Canada's Human Rights record? It's downright disgusting. Simple to see why Harper treats the F.N. as he does. Exactly like dirt. Read the comments, on the National Post. That's who will vote for Harper.

Owen Gray said...

You can rely on the National Post to support Harper, Anon. The problem is that the Liberals seem to be looking for support from the same folks.

That's a strategy which is doomed to fail.

ck said...

If I may play devil's advocate here, I don't think the Liberals are going after Harper's hardcore supporters. They're going after the blue grits they lost in 2011 due to their panic over polls which over estimated (as it turned out) the surge of the NDP (only in la belle province was there really an orange wave -- NDP only had a net gain of about 8 seats).

The unfortunate fact was and still is is that English Canadians aren't really all that progressive -- in fact the only thing progressive about Canada is French Quebec. Believe me, all one has to do is talk to their neighbours, co-workers and family members to know this.

Now Tom Mulcair is moving the NDP to the center--trying feverishly to drop the name of "soshalism" as it is as dirty a word (not to mention a grossly misused one)as it is amongst the American Tea-party.

In fact, has Tom Mulcair even bothered to reach Theresa Spence? No. He had remained noticeably MIA on that one. He didn't even show up to that signing of the declaration. It was Bob Rae who was there.

Mulcair is pretty much ignoring Quebec these days, despite having most of his seats from La Belle Province. It's vote rich Ontario he needs. Ontario, being that other Conservative province.

Let's remember, Harper didn't get his majority from Alberta alone--mathematical impossibility. No, his majority was made in Ontario, especially by new panic-stricken, NDP "soshalist" phobic blue grit voters.

Tom Mulcair and the NDP are just as guilty of splitting the non-Harper vote. In fact, they smash Liberals probably more often than they do Harper and his conservatives. Recently, Mulcair has forbidden any of his caucus to even utter the words "cooperation".

The fact is is that both the Liberals and NDP are equally guilty of splitting these votes and helping Harper.

Another thing that everyone seems to forget, especially pollsters and pundits -- there will be 30 new seats in Ontario, BC and Alberta. No doubt Harper is practically drawing the new electoral map all by himself to suit his advantage.

AS for environmental concerns, I've always said that if the wind energy and solar panel and other green industries could raise the funds and have as powerful lobbyists as the oil and gas industries, we'd be seeing more green industries popping up.

As for health care, citizens are not fighting enough to maintain it. They sure like to complain about it, but don't have the stones to do like the Quebec students did or anyone like that.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, ck, that the the Dippers enabled Harper as much as the Liberals.

Rae has been on Spence's side from the beginning. If the Liberals had been wise, they would have chosen Rae the first time around.

It's true that the Liberals want to attract the people who used to support Joe Clark and Bob Stanfield. But they'll need more folks than that. They'll need NDP voters -- particularly NDP voters from Quebec.

If the next election is a knockout battle between the Liberals and the Dippers, Harper wins again.

Dana said...

I've said time and time again, since 2008, that Harper will win a second strong majority before the Liberals and Dippers will even begin to consider cooperation or merging. And that begrudgingly, as though inconvenienced by the idea that confederation is more important or worthy of preservation than their partisan preserves.

Problem is, by then, there won't be enough left of Canada to make it worth preserving.

And I'm not being overly dramatic.

I don't think Canada, as a workable federation or as an idea will exist after Harper is done and I believe that his goal all along has been to facilitate the absorption of Canada, in part or in whole, into the USA.

Owen Gray said...

What's truly frustrating about Harper is that he has no sense of the nation's history, Dana.

He also has no respect for how Canada works, or for how its third solitude -- the First Nations -- have contributed to our governing process.

He prefers the presidential model, where all the members of his caucus are like members of the president's cabinet and serve at his pleasure.

The longer he stays in office, the more he will transform us into an American colony.

christopher babcock said...

I don't think Canada is becoming an 'American colony' considering trade between the US and Canada is diminishing under Harper as he adjusts focus towards Asia.

The problem with climate change is that the average voter, whether they believe in it or not, simply don't care. Climate change is not a platform you can run on -- unless you're the Green Party -- because it isn't a tangible problem that people can connect to. It can be an issue that the Liberals stand behind, but they'll never come into power toting 'climate change' as the big issue. Besides, even if they did so, the Tories would spin the issue into a dreaded 'carbon tax' to spook voters.

I am not certain what the remedy is for the Liberals, but they need to be more communicative to the public about how truly undemocratic the Harper Government has acted. I don't think people really know. They also need to find 5-10 serious issues and run on those instead of trying to solve all the world's problems.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with climate change, Christopher, is that it's still pretty abstract to most voters.

The folks who live in New York and New Jersey have first hand experience with wild weather.

Until voters live with the damage, they won't give the issue serious thought.