Canadian Political Landscape

Posted: April 4, 2011 in Current Events, Election, Media Gleanings

In this week’s Maclean’s magazine, Andrew Coyne does an excellent job of painting a picture of the Canadian political landscape, especially as it relates to the whole “coalition” issue.

First, he states, correctly, that it is hypocritical to talk about a coalition threat because a true coalition, in the proper sense of the word, is never what this has been about.  Furthermore, making it a villain is ridiculous since cooperation between parties has always been a legitimate part of the Canadian political process.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

His second point is more interesting.  He claims that Harper’s refusal to let this issue go is a strategy which is essential, given Canada’s political landscape.  In  Canada, as in most countries, there are many people whose ideology sit at centre, instead of left or right.  These voters are people who could vote for a Liberal party that has disassociated itself from extreme left wing ideas. On the other hand they could vote Conservative, if the party platform doesn’t go too right wing or if they think that the Conservatives will be kept in check by other parties in a minority government.  These are the swing voters who usually decide the election in Canada.

By focusing on the threat of a Liberal/NDP coalition, Coyne says, Harper is trying to redraw this landscape so that these swing voters  perceive the Liberals as being too left wing.  This means that, in the minds of these voters, the choice now becomes a Conservative majority or a Liberal/NDP, left wing coalition.  This, of course, is not the real choice, but perception is everything.

And if perception is, indeed, everything, in my opinion, the way to counteract this strategy is clear.  Those central voters must be made to see that the Conservative Party does not represent the moderate conservative ideology that they try to project.  They are, themselves, a result of a merger (-the ultimate coalition-) between the old PC party and the Reform party, the latter of which has much in common with the American Tea Party.  Their leader, Stephen Harper, was instrumental in creating that merger and, himself, came from the Reform wing of that merger.

Today, Harper’s main policy statement will be to scrap the long gun registration law.  Does this not seem familiar?  It clearly shows a desire to appeal to the pro-gun faction within our society, -to normalize the possession of guns.  We see the same thing south of the border with Republican, gun-slinging conservatives.  Today is the second day that real policy statements are being presented by campaigners, and this issue seems to be so much a a priority for Harper and his team that it deserves special mention.  How long until we have political candidates in the west sponsoring events where supporters can come and shoot guns, like they do in the American west?

That is just today’s clear indication of where the political ideology of the Conservative party, and Harper in particular, really stands.  Conservatives have every right to present and argue their beliefs.  However, it needs to be done with truth and honesty, not obscured by a veil of false moderation.  That false moderation exists because of a minority government situation.  You can bet that the real stripes would emerge should they achieve a majority government.

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