Canadians are strange. I know — I’m one of them.
In some places in the world, such as our oft-maligned (deservably or not) neighbour to the south, people vote for a person and the position/platform that they take in the course of presented themselves to the electorate. The fact that they belong to a specific political party is often inconsequential.
We Canucks are a strange lot, however: We’ll actually vote out completely competant and capable people, or somehow magically organize ourselves nationwide to vote out a party in retaliation for things they’ve done during their administration. It’s our polite way of taking revenge.
Canada took revenge on the Liberals. After a decade of ruling the country, we decided to give them the heave-ho in favour of the only other politically-viable party: the Conservatives. Thankfully, we collectively had the sanity to only give the Conservatives a minority government — the baby managed to hang onto the tub while we threw out the bathwater.
Do I like the fact that the Conservatives are in? Not particularly. I don’t much like the right-of-right-wing idealism that has spun out of that group in the last couple of years. I didn’t mind the Progressive Conservative party back in the day. Periodically inane, yes, and were effectively decimated to two lousy seats following the Mulrooney era, but all-in-all weren’t that bad.
Canadians have a short memory. People seem to forget that it was because of the Liberals that we have most of the social policies that we do today. Remember, if it weren’t for Trudeau, the state would have poked its nose into the bedrooms of the nation probably well into the 1970s. Following Mulrooney’s retirement from office (wisely chosen mere months before a federal election eliminated the PCs of official party status in the House of Commons) … anyone remember why?
Oh, and anyone ever really notice that the dropped “Progressive” from the party name? That should be an indication of how willing the Conservatives are willing to look forward. The Conservatives are intersted in status quo — the one of years’ past.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way trying to absolve the Liberals of wrongdoing. There were serious violations of protocol, and people knew about it. At least internally. It wasn’t until the Gomery Inquiry that things came more to light. It was a mess. The ruling party was involved. And darn it, that just ain’t Canadian!
Let’s ignore one of the more crucial facts: Not all the Liberals were involved in the scandal. In fact, most of the shenanigans took place with federal employees — people the electorate have no control over. People who might still be there. Certainly, if nothing else, the poisoned environment still exists. Things might have gotten quieter, but does it mean that the corruption has been purged? I’m willing to suggest it’s not.
The part that worries me most of all this is how much we’re going to be set back. The Conservatives (so aptly named) are scared of anything that go against what they consider normal. They will do everything in their (albeit limited) power to take away rights bestowed to groups, takea way the legislation geared to making Canada safer and open, and abolishing systems we have come to depend on. Oh, and the child care thing? Harper — please take a lesson from Quebec. They’re the only ones who have this figured out.
How long the Conservatives stay in the lead role remains to be seen. Minority governments generally don’t last long because before too long, they either make a mistake and are forced to set a new election, get overly cocky and want to hold an election to get more seats, or the other parties gang up and end up dissolving the house — and bringing about another election. I speculate they’ll play it safe as long as possible to stay in power as long as possible. Make enough good in-roads with the rest of Canada, and they might pull of a majority government.
The next few years will be interesting, to say the least. And I sincerely hope it’s not a disasterous four years.