You can think of Canada's federal politics as bi-polar. We have two parties that will form government, just the two and it shows.
Over time the Liberals and Conservatives have realized it doesn't care what they promise the voting public. What matters is getting their votes by any means possible. What happens after - well, so what?
Those of us not affiliated, i.e. joined at the hip, to either party know that, when an election looms, there'll be plenty of pressure on us not to vote for the party we support but to vote for one of the two old parties if only to keep the one we most dislike from getting in.
Liberals love that. The line goes that to vote for anybody other than the Liberals is a vote for Scheer. Even my mother wasn't able to wield guilt that shamelessly.
Both of the old school parties have a well-earned reputation as liars. Harper promised transparency and accountability only to deliver neither. Trudeau promised social licence, electoral reform, reconciliation with First Nations and real action on climate change. Cue that clip of Kabuki theatre.
It seems we're finally growing weary of Liberal lies and Tory lies. CBC's Vassy Kapelos says voters are beginning to look elsewhere.
If you've been paying attention to the results of some recent provincial elections (and international ones, too), you'll notice small changes that have the potential to turn into something bigger.
In New Brunswick's provincial election back in September, voters showed they wanted change. OK, that's not unusual. What was unusual is where many of them chose to park their votes.
New Brunwsickers voted in a minority Conservative government - with the Greens and the People's Alliance of New Brunswick winning three seats apiece and holding the balance of power.
Last month, P.E.I's election saw another vote for change. Despite the economy's positive performance, voters in that province turfed the governing Liberals and voted in a Conservative minority government, with the Greens forming the Official Opposition.
As two former premiers from those provinces told me, voters increasingly are looking beyond the usual binary choice between voting Liberal or Conservative.
...Is something going on here? If so, what?
It's hard to know, and I hesitate to use the term 'populism' because it conveys so many different things to different people right now. But what I do see is a clear appetite for change, anxiety about the status quo and a desire among a growing number of voters to see less-traditional options as vehicles for that change - a way to reject the status quo.In an earlier post, I touched on what we're not going to hear from Scheer or Trudeau when they hit the hustings. We're not going to hear what we most need to hear. We're not going to hear a clear, credible commitment to our survival. We are not going to get a believable commitment to cut Canada's greenhouse gases by 50 per cent by 2030. That would require a reversal of deeply held policies of a truly seismic dimension. It's not going to happen. Oh, Trudeau might hint about doing something but, sorry, we've had the full measure of his honesty, haven't we? Yes, of course.
It's encouraging to discover other former Liberals who plan to vote Green this year. We might not carry many ridings but that's not the point any more. Neither of the old school parties deserves our votes, not anymore. Finis.