Walking a Fine Line

By Jason Menard

A little Conservative thinking can go a long way to giving us the Canada we’re looking for. Politics truly is a dangerous game and with election day upon us, it’s time for Canadians to roll the dice. The only hope is that we don’t overbid and crap out.

It pains my left-leaning heart to say it, but the best situation for this country may be the rise of a Conservative minority government. Yet, in their rush to heap scorn on the Liberal Party of Canada, Canadians may go too far in their punishment and feel the karmic whiplash of getting exactly what they asked for.

In general, Canada is a fairly left-leaning country, as evidenced by three socially progressive federal parties: the Liberals, the New Democratic Party, and the Bloc Quebecois. In fact, throw in the Green’s supporters and you have a significant segment of voters who have displayed support for socially left-wing policy in the past. So how is it that we’ve been at the cusp of a Conservative majority for the past couple of weeks leading up to today’s election?

To be honest, I still haven’t made up my mind for whom I’m going to vote. Presented with two strong left-leaning candidates in my riding I have a difficult choice.

Do I choose the Liberal candidate who has been the co-founder and volunteer executive director of the city’s Food Bank for 19 years? The man who works to build schools and end slavery in Sudan? The man who, on top of all this, has been a firefighter and Captain for 28 years? Or do I go NDP and choose the candidate who has been a long-time advocate for social rights in the community? A woman who transitioned from a teaching job to the world of politics and has demonstrated caring and integrity? A woman who champions anti-racism and accessibility causes – and who has the experience that comes with being elected as a MPP?

For once, I don’t have to choose from the lesser of two evils! I just have to figure out which candidate walks on water better. But for the country, what I want is completely different.

Simply put, a Conservative minority government means that everyone wins. Well, almost everyone – everyone but the Conservatives and the taxpayers, in the end.

The Conservatives get power – however fleeting it may be. But their minority status ensures that once the gaffer tape has been ripped from the mouths of the far-right-wing elected representatives, they won’t have the numbers to enact any particularly damaging legislation.

The NDP will continue in its role as the social conscience of the House of Commons. Either with the same number or an increase in the number of seats, they should be able to be a strong voice in Parliament for however long this Parliament lasts.

And finally, the Liberals can begin the process of rebuilding their party. Unfortunately, Paul Martin has been forever stained with the corruption that came before him (and, admittedly, went on while he was around). Ever the good soldier, Martin was forced to fall on the sword set up by his former nemesis Jean Chrétien.

As long as Martin is in power, a significant number of people who would normally consider voting for the Liberal party will stay away, simply because they can’t get by the stink of corruption that Martin has been infused with. Whether or not he’s been involved, he’s been cast as the lead role in this production of entitlement and patronage.

The Liberals need a clean slate. Martin needs to step back to the private sector, having realized his dream if only for a little while. And the party needs to find new and dynamic leadership. Whether Frank McKenna comes back from exile (OK, Washington, but it’s the same thing) or Michael Ignatieff ever acts upon the promise that others have seen in him, the Liberals need to start fresh.

After that, the country’s ripe for their picking. After almost two decades in power, Canadians obviously are comfortable with a Liberal government. In fact, the polls indicate that Canadians, as a whole, are a little leery of the whole Reform/Alliance influence on the Conservatives. That’s why the electorate has made a sharp turn left the moment a Tory majority was predicted.

Once the leadership race is over, expect the pressure to force another election to come in waves. And, on the hook for yet another election bill, Canadians may go the route of a certain five-year majority with a party they’re comfortable with – a reborn Liberal party.

It’s a roll of the dice that sees the very future of our country at stake.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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