Is there a liberal in the house?

Think of the old Maple Leaf Gardens this weekend. In Pierre Trudeau’s day we used to fill that old barn with more than 15,000 liberal supporters for rallies. Senior party members would have panic attacks all day worrying about whether anyone would come. It was always a highlight of the campaign. Somebody would innocently arrive late with a bunch of buses, be barred from entry to the Gardens and we would have the Prime Minister address them from a flatbed we had parked on Carlton Street.

But who are these people we are going to listen to this weekend at this Maple Leaf Gardens Lite? In this new cut-down version of the old Gardens, the party will gather fewer than 3000 rigidly controlled delegates. On Friday night there will be a joyous farewell to Dalton McGuinty as Premier. It will be a happy time. The candidates will entertain.

Starting early on Saturday morning, there will be speeches and voting and the selection of a new leader who will also be the new Premier. This is a serious time.

And yet, we have no idea if most of these possible leaders are really liberals. Can they even tell you what a liberal believes? Do they understand the demands it places on us to be the political party that stands for individual rights in a society caught up in self worship? And what happens to individual rights in an economy such as today where we are fighting the doldrums of destructive protectionism?

Individual rights mean that free access to education for all must be the liberal objective. It means healthcare is a right. It means poverty must be vanquished. Opportunity for all is not accessible in gated communities. Liberalism cannot continue to support the one per cent. Liberalism rejects the collectivism of the left and the bigotry and paternalism of the right. Nor can we allow our children to be divided by religion or the mores of other parts of the world.

Liberalism is easy for those who have never thought about it. We can no longer just take from this new society of North America and not take responsibility for its future. We can no longer neglect the environment. We must protect it as our legacy.

Liberalism is not complex. It is serious. Can we choose otherwise?

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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