Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pour un Canada lucide

Yesterday I posted about how Quebec politicians have been dancing to the same tune since the 1960s, but that there finally seems to be some new ideas circulating in the public discourse.

Would that the same could be said for the Canadian government. Instead, we get another round of the Gomery two-step. Obsessive poll-watching is set to continue through the winter - all of it amounting to a hill of beans. Is anyone really shocked to see the Liberal party's support fall in the week that the report came out (according to Ipsos-Reid and Strategic Counsel)? It would have been a complete shocker had it been otherwise. How would anyone but the most die-hard Liberal supporter have answered a series of questions that probably started off with something along the lines of "Do you believe the Gomery report's conclusions that Paul Martin had nothing to do with the sponsorship scandal?" and then proceeded through several more questions about Gomery and the trustworthiness of the Liberal party before finally asking about voter intentions?

Will Conservative party support stay where it is, or even grow? Can it win an election on the sole issue of government corruption? Normally, I would say no, because deep down I believe that most Canadians consider politicians of all stripes to be corrupt to a certain degree, and will not buy the argument that a Conservative government would be any different than the Liberals. That being said, these same voters will overlook corruption if they are given a good reason to vote otherwise.

And herein lies the problem for the Liberals. They have allowed the corruption song to play on repeat endlessly, without doing anything noticeable to change-up the playlist. They can rail on all they like about the Conservatives being a visionless party that is only interested in government ethics, but if they aren't putting forth their own vision, then there is no good reason to vote for them. Like it or not, they will enter the next election tainted as the party of the sponsorship scandal, and no amount of spinning will completely erase that. Far better to accept that reality, promise to improve, and then get some real policies on the table, so that voters might have a reason to want to see a Liberal government in power. It's called vision, people - can't you see that!

I would be remiss if I did not mention the NDP's role in all of this. As J. Kelly Nestruck pointed out yesterday, Jack Layton is just as guilty right now of playing election footsie. He is in a difficult position as the leader with the least to gain from an election, and his clout has been reduced by the death of Chuck Cadman. But if he wants to make gains in the next election, he needs to keep hammering on issues that matter to his would-be supporters, especially those in BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario. People who vote for the NDP often do so because they care about issues, and the party needs to cling to this approach to politics, rather than singing from the Corruption hymnal.

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