Scourge and Transparency

The Rise and Fall of Advanced Social Journalism during the Early Twenty-First Century

The Current House of Commons and the Commentators Who Discuss It

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Open any major newspaper or watch any news program and there will be a column or debate dedicated to what is wrong with the current Liberal Party of Canada. Pundits say that the party’s leader, Stephane Dion, appears weak and ineffective because he has continued to vote, time after time, with the government. Dion cannot but vote with the government and the majority of Canadians have no problem with that. There are three things political commentators fail to see that are obvious to anyone with an eye on Ottawa and a simple understanding of the public’s point of view. The first is that almost any major vote the Liberals are against would result in an election. The second is that Canada’s economy is relatively stable and the government has done virtually nothing that can be seriously opposed. And the third is that Canadians don’t care.
If the Liberals voted against the budget or the throne speech, they would obviously have to have good reason. The vote would result in a federal election and thus a period of economic uncertainty during a time that is already financially unstable. Some Liberal seats may be lost; some Conservative seats may be lost. It is not easy to predict who would be the winner, but if there were an election tomorrow not much would change—there would most likely remain a minority government that would govern somewhere close to the centre to remain in power with the support of the opposition. If the Liberals lose the election, Stephane Dion will lose his leadership title and Michael Ignatieff would be crowned the Grit King. According to newspapers and magazines the former Harvard professor, who in recent years has spent more time living in the United States than in Canada, is very popular within the Liberal party. Pundits make note of Ignatieff’s popularity in every column and at every issue panel that is broadcast or published; however they completely ignore the fact that the party members do not represent the Canadian populous as a whole and they fail to discuss how a right-winger like Ignatieff might be perceived by the general public. According to commentators, the second-most popular kid in school is the former NDP Premier of Ontario, who ran the province in its worst economic period in recent history: Bob Rae. In effect, if the Liberals lose the next election, in the following election the Grit leader will either be someone who is extremely similar to Harper or someone so far on the other side of the political spectrum that the centrist voters will easily move towards the right.
Supposedly Dion appears non-authoritative because he has not brought down the government. But what motive does the legislature have to go into another election? Things are reasonably good. Economists have been predicting a financial downturn for the last six months although very little has actually changed, reinforcing confidence in Canada’s economy. Because the Conservatives are in a minority and they read the polls and are not as stupid or as radical as some may think, they have been tabling more moderate legislation than conservative reforms. The Liberals aren’t that dumb either. And they know Canadians have had nothing to recently cry about when it comes to Ottawa. Thus Dion’s party has become the crutch the Tories lean on, but only because that is probably best for Canadians. The opposition does not exist to call elections so the leadership can change hands; it is there to represent – like the government – all Canadians.
Dion next to his counterpart Ignatieff
It is important to point out that all the predictions in this column are made on the assumption that the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party will continue to push for an election and vote against the Conservatives because they will never form the government, and especially the NDP will continue to run their mouths about what they’d do if they were in this imaginary power they speak of – no matter how much it would cost the Canadian taxpayer.
The third issue is of course Canadians’ apathy. Citizens will never be completely satisfied with the government, no matter what party is in power. If there are no major or pressing issues affecting the public, people turn their heads and do their jobs and feed the families and could care less about how Dion is perceived within his own political party.
Minority governments are sometimes the best kind of government. Since the Conservatives are unable to call an election in government (for the first time in Canadian history there will be fixed election dates; instead of the government’s calling one when it serves their purposes the next election is set for November ’09), the power rests with the opposition to bring about change in Ottawa. However, there has been no major reason to bring down Harper’s Tories and Dion knows this. Canadians don’t want the kind of change in Ottawa that would drastically change the seating of the House and it is the Liberals’ job, as well as the Conservatives’ (and the Bloc’s and NDP’s for that matter) to respect that viewpoint. Political commentators, as well dissidents within the Liberal Party, should be smart enough to understand that Stephane Dion is simply doing the only thing he can do, and that is acting on the will of Canadians.

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Written by shanedantimo

April 13, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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