Canadian Politicos: Waiting for Defeat Snatched from the Jaws of Victory

PhilHarperI read recently that a Liberal candidate may have finally stepped forward in my local riding here in Southwest Ontario.  I like to see that because despite how moribund the Liberal party might seem these days in the polls, it’ll be back someday.  In politics it’s all about what have you done for me lately and it’s all about winning.  At a certain point the Conservatives will succeed in their never ending attempt to capture defeat from the jaws of victory and the Liberals will be back.

To say that the Canadian political landscape is interesting is probably the overstatement of the young year.  Canadian politics is certainly feisty but it is not interesting.  Political support across five different parties some regionally based and some not makes for political stalemate.  We seem to be in a never-ending minority government and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff continues to be disparaged by a media that seems to be looking for blood.  It is true that Ignatieff is a very smart man and has lived a very charmed existence.  I am one Canadian who would love to see that continue in the political world.  However there seems to be this masochistic notion in Canadian politics hoping that Ignatieff trips up just because he’s such a smart guy.  I don’t get it.  Just because he doesn’t look the most natural drinking a Tim Horton’s coffee and talking across the fence rail doesn’t mean a thing.  I believe he still might be Prime Minister someday.

From what I read in the press he’s about to set off on a 20 riding tour.  He will be visiting different writings across the country that the Liberals have a chance of winning or at least maintaining.  The Conservatives have made some inroads over the last little while in the GTA which at one time with solid liberal country.  One thing about Stephen Harper is he is a smart politician.  He can count and he knows the fertile political ground around Ontario may offer the greatest hope for him getting a majority government.

If you’ve read this column over the last five years you will know that I don’t believe that. The existence of the Bloc Quebecois in Québec effectively means it is very difficult for any party to get a majority.  Add the Greens getting 9%, an inch deep across Canada and it doesn’t leave a lot of votes for majority territory.  If Stephen Harper had a little bit of charisma it might help.  However, I think he is a few sessions of the Beatles songs away from that.

Fresh from his battle with cancer is Jack Layton, the NDP leader. Canadians have a lot of respect for this man because he has always fought the good fight for the NDP as well as fighting for his life with dignity against cancer. Mr. Layton has said he doesn’t drink the liberal Kool-Aid that the progressive vote must come together to defeat the Conservatives.  I want to believe him but I don’t know.  Votes for the NDP means so many different things in British Columbia versus Saskatchewan versus New Brunswick versus Southwestern Ontario.  It is hard to categorize voters as homogeneous and progressive.

One slogan I don’t like is this Conservative mantra regarding a “coalition with the Socialists”.  The Conservatives certainly do lots of focus groups and market research to know that it might resonate with their base.  However, I find it insulting labeling Canadians who differ from them with a stamp from the past century.  A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian and if they pay taxes and was born in this country or has citizenship in any way they are all of us.  We are all a coalition.

One thing that I’ve often thought Liberal leader Ignatieff should do is just wait.  Yes, he has said that he will not support the Conservatives when Parliament resumes.  So that is saying something.  Needless to say, I find that the Conservatives consistently try to snatch defeat from victory, doing stupid things when they don’t have to.  We have not seen much of that in a while, so I’m sure something is just around the corner.   All the Liberal leader has to do is wait.

Of course waiting is not interesting politics, in fact it is very boring.  Sure we will like to see some charismatic quixotic figure come on to the Canadian political scene to sweep us off our feet.  Not happening people, not in 2010.   However, never say never.  Snatching defeat from victory is still a real possibility.