Tuesday, March 18, 2008

3 out of 4

In going over last night's by-election results, I am happy that the Liberals won three of the four vacant districts contested. The one district in Saskatchewan (Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River) went to the Conservatives, though; and like many I think it's in large part due to that Stéphane Dion set aside the people's choice for the nominee, David Orchard, and parachuted his own candidate. Dion tried that strategy in Montréal's Outremont section, one of the safest Liberal bastions in the whole country -- and it was lost to the NDP. The will of the people should be respected, and Dion missed out on a great opportunity; Orchard would have been more than capable of going toe-to-toe against Team Harper especially on the Canadian Wheat Board file.

Another thing worth noting is how well the Green Party did. In the two Toronto districts up last night, the Greens finished either ahead of the socialists (Willowdale, won by Martha Hall Findlay) or virtually tied with them (Toronto-Centre won by former Ontario socialist Premier Bob Rae). In Vancouver-Quadra, it was a lot closer race than most thought and it may have been because many Liberal votes peeled away to the Greens.

This is something the Liberals caught on to when they decided last year not to contest a Nova Scotia seat that Green Party leader Elizabeth May is running in; against Con Peter Mackay (in return, the Greens won't run in Dion's home district in Montréal).

Sad as it makes me, the NDP has become irrelevant to a lot of Canadians -- it's just not the party of Tommy Douglas or Edward Broadbent anymore; and the "new" in New Democrat wore off ages ago. I happen to know many fine N Dippers including my MP, Chris Charlton. The way I see it, though, the new progressive movement that many Canadians are aligning with is the Greens; and while I remain a firm Liberal I think that the Green Party is poised to make a major breakthrough whenever the Generals happen either this year or next.

I also think the Green Party would be a more viable coalition partner for the Liberals if May does manage to pick up a few seats -- it's almost certain the next election will produce yet another hung Parliament barring a huge scandal that rocks the Cons as much as Sponsorgate did the Liberals.

Be that as it may, or what may come, we deal with the here and now; and having Rae and Findlay on the front bench alongside Dion and Ignatieff should give the Liberals a bit more swagger, and a desperately needed one at that. We're looking at least until the fall for an election now. Wouldn't it be poignant if Rae -- the guy who as a socialist introduced the budget amendment that brought down Joe Clark in 1979 -- also introduced as a Liberal a non-confidence measure against Harper in 2008?

Not too many people around the world can say they brought down not one but two Prime Ministers while being a member of two different parties 29 years apart.

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