Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Random Thoughts On Canadian Politics

I am a political junky, I like to be in the know, I enjoy the debate. I was fully invested in the last Federal Election, there was an air of change, the Liberal juggernaut was crumbling, it looked that there may be some new political blood, new (hopefully progressive) ideas, new life in the Canadian political process, at least thats what I had hoped for, its not easy being an idealist, the last Federal election has jaded any hope I might have had of there being a bold new political reality in Canada.

What happened? Well, the revamped Conservative Party won a minority mandate. I could handle that, hell its what I expected, The Liberals were doomed from the start, and frankly deserved to be kick to the curb. As idealistic as I may be, I am also a realist, I knew that there wasn't a chance in hell that my guys, the NDP, could sneak up the middle, or um er from the left and steal the election. Canada like its cousins down south is basically a two party system, elections go one of two ways, Liberal, or (Progressive, historically) Conservative. The 'fringe' or more accurately 2nd tier parties, the NDP, the Bloc (who only run in Quebec, and thus can't form a government in the first place), and the Green Party (who have been around for awhile, but are the new cool) really are nothing more than also-rans. What made the last Federal election exciting was the prospect of one of these parties, having a significant voice because of the prospect of another minority government. It did my soul a world of good thinking that if the NDP could score enough seats, that they could force the Conservative Party to stick to a moderately progressive agenda, thwarting any secret right wing agenda that Harper and gang might have dreamed up.

What happened? First, the NDP just didn't get enough seats to become the balance of power. The Liberal demise in Quebec, and a Conservative Party mini revival in that same province, meant that the Tories earned more seats than expected, the Liberals less than expected, and the NDP just couldn't make up the difference. The Bloc, is technically the balance of power in Canada, that is if one believes that the Tories and the Grits do not covertly work with each other.Lets face facts, the Harper Tories are enjoying their time as the party in power, and Dion and his Grits have not got their collective shit together to perform as they would like if an election was called.

Where are we? Canada is in a political vacuum. The Tories, can't really go whole hog with any sort of right wing agenda (thankfully), but the opposition is also politically impudent. There is not a strong leader in any of Canada's political parties. Harper and the Tories will goat the opposition into trying to take down the government, it makes he and his Tories look strong, and I think he likes the ego boast, he is in the driver's seat right now, and he knows that the other opposition parties are not ready to compete in an election. The Tories are not at a point where they might win a majority government, but another minority does not seem out of the question.

What is next? I believe there will be an election sometime in the next 6 to 12 months. The squeaky clean, and normally media sly Tories are starting to slip up. The Liberals will eventually grow the stones, especially if the polls look favourable and the soap opera that is a Canadian election will be upon us. Will I be excited this time around, I doubt it, there really isn't a political person or party that excites me at all. I will keep my eyes down south, the story there is far more compelling.

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