Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Liberal Paradox

Tom Walkom writes this morning that the public celebration of Jean Chretien's 80th birthday underscores the paradox which is the Liberal Party:

The Liberals are a paradox. They build institutions and then demolish them. They insist they walk the middle line even when they don’t.
They pride themselves on their crafty pragmatism. But they can be fooled time and time again by their own PR.

Consider what happened during Chretien's fifty years in politics:

He was lauded for being part of the Liberal government that, 50 years ago, worked to build and expand the great social programs of the 20th century. These included federally funded welfare, medicare and what is now called employment insurance.
Then he was lauded for decimating these same social programs when, as prime minister during the 1990s, he slashed spending in order to eliminate the federal deficit.

Which raises the question, what do the Liberals stand for? The answer seems to be that depends. Walkom recognizes that the eighties were a good time for conservatives:

He governed during a time when the right was in ascendency worldwide. And like any successful politician, he tried to balance interests — including his own.

But, when all is said and done, Chretien's career should serve as a cautionary tale. It's a story that Justin Trudeau  -- who doesn't seem to stand for much -- should read and re-read.


Lorne said...

Let's hope JT doesn't use the old man as a role model, Owen, but thus far, with his politics of expedience masquerading as wanting to know what Canadians think, he appears to be well on his way.

Owen Gray said...

If Trudeau was a credible alternative to Harper, Lorne, I'd vote for him. But, so far, all I see is youth in a contest with a prematurely old prime minister.

Anonymous said...

I would vote for Attila the Hun, before I would ever vote for Harper.

I like many others are going to wait and see, who is the closest to taking Harper out, and vote for them.

Harper is the only Canadian PM ever, to be held in contempt of Parliament. Harper has no right to govern this country, what-so-ever.

Owen Gray said...

Unless Harper resigns before the next, election, Anon, I suspect that the only way to send him back to Alberta will be to do exactly what you plan to do.

astone said...

Sorry Owen! Please disregard my comment. I took your post to mean that you would vote for Harper. You just meant you wouldn't vote for Trudeau. I apologize! Harper just makes me crazy. So many people that I know just say ...Ahhh it's just politics.

Owen Gray said...

Actually, astone, I'm hoping Trudeau will give me a reason to vote for him.

I'm in a bit of a spot. I'm in a Conservative riding which is going to be split in two.

Next time around I'm going to have to vote strategically. But it won't be for Harper.

astone said...

Agreed 100 percent. If only Elizabeth May were viable. Trudeau would be a lesser evil to Harper.I am hoping that J is hiding his true colours till just before the election and thus saving us all !!! Mulcair----gaaaghhh. There is no one else,, no vision. I had such hopes for Justin.. I despair for our future. I read your blog every day, I don't post much though because i get to upset. I read you all, Mound, Simon, P+D, Dawg,thwap,Buckdog and many more. But not enough people are speaking out. I am sickened by even my own friends who won't bother to vote saying it ain't worth the bother. I had one asshole friend in Vic Toews riding who couldn't even be bothered to go out and vote against these thugs and crooks. I am sorry to sound so bitter, but we had the best country in the world, and everybody agreed. Now I am ashamed.

Owen Gray said...

Harper is betting that public apathy will keep him where he is, astone. Those who don't vote help put him there.

But -- as Kathy Dunderdale's exit proved two days ago -- when the end comes, it can be fast and brutal. Ask Jean Charest and Dalton McGuinty how it works.

We'll see if Harper makes it to 2015.