By Jason Menard
If the Liberal Party of Canada wants to find a creative way to raise money for the coffers this year, perhaps they should think about releasing a line of non-stick fry pans under their moniker. Simply put, the Grits are more effective than Teflon when it comes to having things slide off them.
A recent Leger poll found that the Liberals enjoyed the support of 40 per cent of respondents. That’s the same type of numbers that propelled them to their last majority government. The opposition Conservative Party has seen its numbers plummet 10 per cent to a disappointing 24 per cent support.
Despite anger over the sponsorship scandal, despite increased chatter over separation both in the East and the West, despite bad feelings caused by the federal government’s lack of action over the price of fuel, the Liberals have been able to keep their heads down, roll with the punches, and are ready to come out swinging in the next election.
Unfortunately for the Liberals’ opponents, things appear to be falling into place for a significant majority the next time Canadians are called to the polls, which is expected to be in the spring. And the main reason why the Grits are on their way back into power is simply the perceived lack of a viable alternative.
For the Conservatives and their supporters, this was their moment to regain the reins of power that they lost back in 1993. Buoyed by the allegations levied in the Gomery hearings, they were to ride that wave of anti-Liberal sentiment and outrage to a crushing victory. Alas, the Tory train derailed somewhere along the way, and continues to wind its way down a dangerous track with several supporters waiting to replace its conductor, Steven Harper.
Conversely, the New Democratic Party has chosen to remain self-satisfied with its ability to integrate reforms to the recent budget by promising to prop up the embattled minority government. But instead of building upon its gains and making a move for greater penetration into the Canadian populace, the Party appears to be pleased with the status quo, as if it realizes that being a key cog in a minority is the best that it will get.
And both opposition Parties have missed the key opportunity that the recent turmoil in the Liberal ranks has brought about – the ability to show Canadians what the alternatives to Liberal governance truly are. Both Parties have focused on the Gomery allegations to the exclusion of developing, refining, and presenting their Party platforms. Like the schoolyard squealer that runs around pointing fingers, they’ve forgotten that it’s not enough to point out what’s wrong – you need to identify what steps can be taken to make it right.
The Liberals, led by Prime Minister Paul Martin, appear to have understood this. They have addressed the issue by setting an ultimatum on a date. One month following the now-delayed release of the Gomery report, the government will call an election. Canadian voters have appeared to be appeased by this action. Now that the initial furor over the scandal has died down and the rhetoric has been digested, Canadians are choosing to take a wait-and-see approach with the results and will base their decisions on facts, not speculation.
Canadians have grown tired of the childish name-calling and dragging through the mud. However, instead of taking this opportunity to put forth a calm, rationale, and well-thought-out alternative plan for Canadians to embrace, the opposition Parties chosen to rest on their laurels and continue to sling accusations, respectfully.
It’s time to move on. The spring is not too far away and, unless the opposition Parties take this opportunity to let the Gomery investigation run its course and focus their energies on explaining to Canadians what there alternatives are, then it’s their own fault if Canadians aren’t able to see the way to change.
For a Canadian populace that wants stability and effective government, we’re left with only one readily apparent alternative for governance. And, unfortunately for the opposition Parties that proven entity is the same one that’s been in power for the past dozen years.
As the election race heats up, it’s hard to bet on the Party with the Teflon coating. To win the opposition needs to start cooking an appealing alternative that Canadians will find palatable.
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