Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Does Canada Need a Conservative Government Plus a Conservative Government in Waiting?

It seems to me that one Canadian conservative government is enough. Iggiphiles may see the transformation of the Liberal Party of Canada into a mild copy of the CPC as no great problem but what matters aren't Ignatieff backers but Canadian voters. As The Globe's Jeffrey Simpson points out, to many voters Iggy is just the "same old, same old" they've been getting from Harper:

...rhetoric aside, a convergence between the two parties is noticeable, as the Conservatives become big-spending middle-of-the-roaders and learn more about foreign policy, and the Liberals seem incapable or unwilling to present anything terribly arresting.

Both parties agree, for example, on how to eliminate the federal deficit – slowly and largely by counting on economic growth to spare them from making too many hard decisions. They are obviously content to let debt pile up because they fear being honest with voters that without tax increases and spending cuts, the debt burden will be passed on to their children. Both have ruled out increasing taxes on individuals, businesses and spending. Both insist they will protect Ottawa's massive transfers to provinces. Neither dares touch big federal transfers to individuals, such as pensions. Neither has mentioned slowing down the increase in defence spending.

What do these exemptions leave? It's simple mathematics: cuts to other government programs.
But which ones? Neither party will say, fearing political controversy. All the Liberals argue is that if they must cut, their cuts will be more compassionate.

...As for the... ...Liberals' foreign-policy critique, it is astonishingly thin for a party led by a man who lived so long abroad and visited so many other countries, including failed and failing states. Framing a foreign policy based on that experience ought to have been an Ignatieff high card; instead, his speech last week revealed something much lower down the deck.

A secretariat for the G20. A peace institute. These sound good, but are really quite silly. The return of Team Canada missions? Harmless. A new approach to India and China? See above. Complaints that Mr. Harper's government hasn't worked hard enough against U.S. protectionism are simply wrong. On Afghanistan and the Arctic, the Liberal policy is essentially the government's policy.

The one area of true disagreement comes in the Liberal promise to go to bat for Canadians facing death sentences abroad, or languishing without charge in foreign jails. That's a fair point for debate, but it hardly constitutes a different foreign policy, writ large.

The rhetoric infecting these speeches suggests wide differences and new ideas. Strip the rhetoric away, and the differences narrow and the search for interesting new ideas shrivels.

For those of you who think the mere name Liberal is a more than compelling reason to vote in support of the party, Simpson's comments will seem irrelevant or wrong-headed. But for those who believe that Liberal actually means liberal, there's a great depth of meaning in Simpson's observations.

I think Iggles would have been more comfortable running the CPC than the LPC. In fact I think Canada would have been much better off with a Conservative government led by Ignatieff than with a Liberal opposition led by that same man.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear and dead on. I have not ever thought that Mr. Iggnatief is a Liberal nor does he have an inkling as to what would be good for Canada. It's a sad thing to say, but the man only wants to be PM like an actor wants to covet an Oscar while Harper leads us straight down the tunnel. A. Morris

Anonymous said...

Please, check out Mr. Morton's post--"Someone Sees a Difference." There are MANY! Thanks. LK.

The Mound of Sound said...

As I mentioned, Liberal faithful (and that certainly includes Professor Morton) won't agree nor would I expect them to.

The people the LPC needs to win over - and isn't - are those who consistently rate Iggy lower than Harper. They're the folks who'll be deciding the next election and a troubling measure more of them are leaning toward the CPC, not Ignatieff's LPC.

The consolation prize of a quick election might be a kick in the pants strong enough to restore liberalism to the LPC. I think that sort of epiphany is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't it about Party principles and policies? The leaders come and go. The policies, to me, are the determining factor. I don't agree with all LPC policy, but I feel they can help the most people, most of the time. (AND, they're the only Party that can unseat the CONS.)Thanks. LK

The Mound of Sound said...

Unfortunately LK, only the voting public can unseat the Cons and, for them to do that, they have to perceive Liberal "principles and policies" they'll embrace. So, where are those? Other than banal platitudes the only specific stands Mr. I has taken are anything but progressive.

Mr. Harper sought to shift Canada's political centre hard right. Mr. I, rather than seeking to pull that centre back where it belongs has, instead, chosen to take the LPC right to be alongside Mr. Harper. In doing that the LPC is offering voters sameness rather than new direction.
"We can do better" has come to mean "we can do the same things, only better."

The people we need to unseat the Cons - the Canadian voters - aren't warming to Mr. I or his tepid message and who can blame them? Not I certainly.

Harper is a disaster. Scandals, incompetence, hypocrisy - it's all there. He should fall over all on his own and any good LPC leader ought to be able to slice and dice him to pieces. Iggy has shown himself unable to deliver that punch.

When the LPC membership regain their senses and realize we need a leader who can genuinely connect with the voting public and win back their support with truly progressive policies, the Dion-Ignatieff malaise may end. Until then we'll have to sit patiently and wait for Mr. Harper to do something so bad he'll implode.

Anonymous said...

I meant as a Party, to unseat the Cons, to not divide the Left--VOTE LIBERAL! Since we haven't yet 'united', LPC is our only reasonable hope. Voter's? They don't pay enough attention at the best of times. And are easily misled. Especially when their lowest forms of thinking, bigotry and vengeance are being played to. We're being dumbed-down and doomed but I'll still vote Liberal and hope for the best. LK

Anonymous said...

As for 'coveting', welcome to Stephen Harper's vision for Canada. LK

The Mound of Sound said...

LK, the Liberal "left" isn't divided, it's been ousted. We are beset with a Leader who believes warfighting is the way of the future for our military, who tied the Libs to the Israelis on Gaza, who supported that truly awful Harper "stimulus" budget instead of presenting an alternative, who has said nothing meaningful on climate change and, to the contrary, sees the Tar Sands as the key to a prosperous 21st century for Canada and bitumen as a hallmark of national unity.

I've been a Liberal for over 40-years but I don't see any semblance of liberalism, as I understand it, in Iggle's policies. Each and every one of those positions above is entirely conservative.

I come from a province where we've had a gutfull of rightwing government under a "Liberal" label. It's a disgrace, a defilement of the name.

So LK if you want to support a conservative party because it lays claim to the title "Liberal" be my guest. I'll support a liberal party if only you can show me one.