Monday, 14 November 2011

Canadian Parliamentary Opposition bland as Liberals and New Democrats navel gaze.

A whizzened Parliamentary Opposition is the current situation as Liberals and New Democrats navel gaze.

The federal Liberal party remains in political limbo hopefully searching for their political mojo. The New Democrats are searching for a leader. There isn’t much opposition to Harper at a crucial time.
by Tom Thorne
I fondly remember the days of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien when the Liberal Party of Canada was a force to be reckoned with in Canadian political life. Now the Liberal party is a shade of its former self headed by interim leader Bob Rae who can't seem to juice Liberals into any public action. That may be a choice of the Liberals as they say they are regrouping.
Bob Rae may vey well be active in the Liberal Party back rooms building the party apparatus for the next federal election, but a Liberal public presence is not seen very much. Unfortunately what is out of sight is out of mind. If the Liberal party wants to return to the Canadian political stage they must be heard on the issues facing Canadians.
Silence and at best lackluster criticism of the Harper government seems to be the strategy at the moment. It is if the Liberals have decided to lie low for a time or sniff the wind more than before before having anything to say. The result: their political donations remain low in fact about half of what the energetic Conservatives have brought into their coffers.
The Liberal's recent defeat seems to sting deeply and their sadness after their recent public rejection at the polls seems to have hit them hard. Liberals when they are out of power lose their reason for being. They lose their political mojo. It's more likely that they miss power so much they can taste its bitterness each day. They seem to have taken their dolls and gone home.
A silent opposition is no opposition.
Liberals seem gun shy even when Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to scrap the gun registry and to destroy the files that have been built up over the years that the police regularly use. Surely that issue needs the attention of an opposition Liberal Party or do they feel they are vulnerable to criticism for the overspending on that program?
And where are the Liberals when the jobless figures went up this month? Their silence means that the Harper government gets off light. When that happens the Conservatives look very good even when they are vulnerable concerning their Crime bill legislation and the concerns of provincial governments about the costs of its implementation. Quebec has told Harper that they do not intend to take on any additional costs of implementing the crime bills by hiring more prison staff or building new prisons. Again silence from the Liberals.
With the New Democratic Party (NDP) now engaged in a leadership race there is a void opposing the Harper Conservatives. Liberals are without an energetic presence in Question Period and in the halls of parliament. It is all so bland as the Conservative agenda goes on each day largely unopposed.
And that is bad for Canada. If the opposition is sidetracked by internal navel gazing about the future of the Liberal Party or in the case of the New Democrats choosing a new leader then Canadians will be served poorly by this parliament.
A majority Harper government is blandness personified.
In some ways the New Democrats and the Liberals know that the Harper Conservatives can do what they like with their majority. However, a majority does not mean that the opposition fades into the background consumed by leadership races or finding their political raison d'ĂȘtre.
The current international fiscal malaise brought on mostly by European Union members such as Greece and Italy playing out political games while their fiscal house is teetering on collapse means that Canadians of all political stripes need to be on full alert.
The Canadian smugness about how we rode out the 2008 meltdown no longer stands. If Europe goes down first into recession and then into default then Canada will feel the pinch immediately. The Conservatives will need to pull back on their current fiscal plans in order to make certain that our economy can survive a European slide into uncharted fiscal foibles. 
Navel gazing time for Liberals and New Democrats is now over. All Canadian political parties have to mount a creative responses to survive the inevitable fall out from European financial fiscal foibles that we all know is coming. 
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

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