Being thankful for democracy.

Putting some things away today, we came across a scroll (suitable for framing) signed by Pierre Trudeau, 40 years ago. The scroll was in recognition of Canada’s democratic heritage. It extols the creativity, strength and vitality of our institutions because of our political parties. The political parties continue today and we can be thankful that we have institutionalized this aspect of our democracy.

The only people who seem to disagree with the strength and importance of our political parties are the news media. At various times, both print and broadcast media have written off all our major parties as the tissues of previous years. And yet the parties refresh, rebound and renew with amazing ease, despite these doomsayers.

The New Democrats have been written off so many times by the news media in Canada, the party has a permanent underdog attitude.

As recently as 1993, the Conservative Party was given last rites by a non-repentant media clique. Down to two members of parliament, the party came fifth after the dominant Liberals, the new Bloc Québécois, the Reform Party and the NDP. While many see the Conservative Party as absorbed by the Western based Reform Party, it was the much larger membership list of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada that brought the muscle to the endeavour. It was this much larger base from the East that finally enabled Stephen Harper to defeat Paul Martin’s right-of-centre Liberals.

It was these right-of centre party people who needed two leadership vacuums to finally install Michael Ignatieff as Liberal Party leader in 2008. It was the combination of a branding Ignatieff as right-of-centre, a poor Liberal campaign and the demise of the Bloc Québécois in Quebec that finally gave Stephen Harper a majority government in 2011.

With the Liberal Party of Canada electing only 34 members to the House of Commons, the media hounds were baying of the death of the Liberal Party. While this might seem a low ebb for Liberals, it is hardly a death knell.

It is a time of introspection for Liberal Party members. The leadership of the party will be determined in April of 2013. The direction of the party will be determined in the process of choosing a leader. The one thing that is clear is that the old directions failed us and failed Canadians. We are not here to mark time but to lead.

And to lead, you must accept challenges, have ideas and determination. That scroll we were talking about earlier talks about a greater number of citizens wanting to become involved in the political process of our country. They want to be part of the process that leads Canada into a new era of realisation and progress. That is what the Liberal Party of Canada can offer.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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