Monday, May 9, 2011

Conservatives win a majority: American Style

This blog was written in May 2011, when Jack Layton had just become opposition leader, bringing with him the promise of a Canadian Spring, a new era in which Layton would lead a movement to wipe away the criminal abuses and corruption of the Harper minority government.

Then two things happened; Jack Layton died in August of that year, followed by a Conservative majority win in the federal election. Only 40 percent of the Canadian electorate even voted, most of them were signed up to vote in new immigrant cabals organized by the Conservatives in key ridings. 

Looking back, apathy of the Canadian electorate won the election for Harper.  Harper has since used his majority to undercut the very idea of Canadian liberalism. Sadly, an entire generation will have come to age in a Canada completely unaware of the concept of a free and open society that had made Canada so special throughout the world. 


Entering the elections last week, the Canadian Government was one of the last countres on the globe with roots in Social Liberalism. Canada retained a left of center politics spread across the country in a variety of political parties, even some with roots in Socialism. Canada had been a leader in social and economic justice, an idea that in retrospect seems quaint.

What is evident from the results of this election is that Conservatives, who have proven to be adroit with unchecked powers in a minority position, may surpass everyone’s expectations. Imagine them with a majority for the next four years.

Collecting just 40 percent of the popular vote, the Conservatives aimed low  using gutter tactics to polarize what previously had been pretty tame politics. The Conservatives chose to target new immigrants, who are more prone to vote conservative in order to fit in. Many had never voted in a democratic election before and most spoke neither official language. Yet it was their votes that turned the tide in key ridings in Ontario and British Columbia, where conservatives won some 50 seats by fewer than one hundred-vote margins. 

 Jack Layton, NDP leader

The hero of the day looks like a Mountie from central casting. He is handsome and sturdy Jack Layton. Layton will replace the outgoing Michael Ignatieff as opposition leader. As leader of the federal New Democratic Party since 2003, Layton is the redeemer of the average Canadian.

Layton is a fiery plain talking guy who has been around the block punching bullies in the stomach his whole life. Fighting cancer, he ran a robust campaign with the tenacity of a bull terrier. He has taken on protecting the rights of the little guy, the middle class and the disadvantaged – in other words, those voters who don’t have a voice in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s world of corporations, big oil and the wealthy. The oligarchs, like hungry wolves, are licking their chops waiting to pounce on every loophole they can find in the new Conservative government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

What Harper lacks in charisma he makes up in arrogance. He isn’t the least apologetic about the fact that he had lost a vote of no confidence for contempt of Parliament that forced this expensive election. After all, he deftly used some treachery to suspend Parliament on two previous occasions when he didn’t want to risk losing a vote.

Harper laughs at repeated attempts by regulators to access his records and look into allegations of wrong doing. He chides any attempt from reporters to clarify murky on-going investigations involving bribes and scandal. For seven years he has refused to play by the rules of government and for this he gets top marks among conservative voters, who have finally gotten what they wanted all along: a villain who is a tyrant, a gangster and a cowboy.

An acolyte of Dick Cheney and George Bush, who are frequent visitors to Harper’s home province in Alberta, Harper is already courting Rupert Murdoch to set up a FOX-like news channel as his mouth piece. At the same time he is openly cutting the budget of Canada’s national broadcasting company, the CBC.

Harper is pledged to stall any action on climate change while promoting off-shore drilling. He wants the provinces to build more prisons while suspending gun laws, allowing many more guns on the street. You get the picture: it’s the Republican\FOX News playbook.

The deposed Michael Ignatieff will go back to the classroom to teach and write  a book about his five-year stint in federal politics. Yet, he may have the last word about this election. When asked about the future for the Liberal Party, he said: “After four years of a federal government of the far right, opposed by a party of the far left, Canadian voters will finally understand why they need a party in the center.”

Stay tuned. One week after the Conservatives win the Canadian economy takes a dive.

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