Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election 2008 aftermath (progressives will not remain silent)

Well,we went through five weeks of an election and what do we get? For $300 million another minority government. If it wasn't for the turmoil the last two weeks it may have well been carte blanche for Harper and I suppose we should be thankful for that.

I was out all day working as a poll clerk so I didn't get a sense of what was happening until much later. I was disappointed that the Liberal candidate in my district of Hamilton Mountain, Tyler Banham, wound up well back in third place -- which one wouldn't have guessed in the poll I worked which indicated a horserace between Banham and the NDP incumbent Chris Charlton (who won) and a fairly strong showing from the Con's Terry Anderson.

A few points I want to make about yesterday's overall results.

First, if Harper is sincere about working with the Opposition, he needs to stop acting as though he has a majority government. Whether it's domestic or foreign policy, a minority government is supposed to work in the best interests if the country. Some of our best social policies, including pensions and public health care, came during minority governments. Some of our best foreign policies, including substantially increasing foreign aid, came during minority governments. Harper needs to respect this tradition.

Second, the breakthrough for the Green Party many of us were hoping for simply wasn't. It's a reflection of our FPTP system, which spreads things too far and too thin not just for the Greens but also the NDP in particular. It's also become a problem for the Liberals. It also explains the stranglehold the Cons have in Alberta -- under a system of PR the opposition parties not just in Alberta but across Canada would have fared way better.

Third, is it game over for Stéphane Dion? I would hope not, but I have to be honest in saying that I thought either Gerard Kennedy or Michael Ignatieff would have been stronger leaders for this out. Still, it's almost inevitable that the Liberals will have to turn their next policy convention in six months into a leadership one. Then they're actually going to have to crack the whip and actually mean to vote no-confidence in Harper if he steps out of line with Canadian values.

Fourth and finally, I find it odd we're moving in a direction opposite to the Americans. It's clear that baring a last minute fluke Barack Obama will win the US Presidency in a landslide and the Democrats will substantially increase their majority in both Houses of Congress -- and the donkey will also make improvements downticket to the state and local levels. When there's a right-leaning government in Canada and a left-leaning one in the States (or vice versa), relations can be tricky at the best of times and these are not the best of times. One hopes that Obama quickly makes his mark so that the neo-cons don't know what hit them and Canadians see that it's progressive values and not regressive ones that result in balanced budgets, lower taxes and improved lives for everyone.

In short, we're looking at two more years of infighting and outfighting -- and little will get done to benefit Canadians. But progressives like me will not be silent. We will continue to fight for what we believe in which includes among other things fairness for all, a clean environment, personal freedom in the arts and sciences, and an open and neutral Internet. If Harper doesn't clean up his act and govern towards the middle he claims to represent then perhaps the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc need to work out some kind of temporary "grand alliance" or coalition to defeat him.

Our reputation as a fiscally responsible nation is at stake and I will feel personally betrayed as will other Canadians if Harper continues on the track he appears to be on.

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penlan said...

I don't think Harper will change his way of ruling. He used the words "our mandate" quite a few times during his victory speech. This does not imply "working together" with the other parties, even though he said he would. What he says means nothing as he has shown us that in the last almost 3 years. I expect to see more of the same, & worse, until the next election.

But, as you said, we must continue to speak & fight for all it's worth so that Canada remains to be the country we know. We cannot give in to this demagogue S Harper.

Anonymous said...

Harper won't change a peep.

His speech this morning reminded me eerily of Bush's speech upon being reelected by the smallest margin in US history.

(In fact, someone should look for a clip or transcript just to see how close ; ).

How the progressive parties respond is what is going to take effort and energy - and moolah. Grassroots fund-raising is needed regardless of whether or not the leadership changes.