Left, Right or Liberal?

One of the best—and funniest—opeds we have read for a while was by Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star. Susan’s first premise in her article (Liberals must win the middle…July 25) was that there are too many communications people in the Liberal Party. She then segues into a discourse on whether the Liberal Party is even necessary. She gives the party a pass but notes that it has to determine if it takes the middle road through principle or pragmatism.

We will take it as something of a back-handed compliment that Susan recognizes the communications expertise that the Liberal Party has shown in the past. We will be less charitable about the idea she quotes from Stephen Harper’s mentor Tom Flanagan. The guru of Canada’s simian right tells political scientists that Liberals in Canada tend to thrive when national unity is a live issue. Maybe that is because we Liberals tend to understand the issue.

Susan goes on to make the point that the Liberal Party can hardly own the pragmatic political middle. That is the fighting ground for all political parties where they pander to the voters, bribe them with their own money and promise the nirvana to come.

But believing in a principled liberalism is also a tough row to hoe. It is a comfortable position when you are only fighting the ideological stands of the parties on the right and left. It becomes uncomfortable though when the Liberal Party leadership breaks its word and veers from one side of the spectrum to another. Intellectually you understand the need to go this way and that to scoop up some more voters but anyone who has followed the family dog around knows you get other detritus when you put a grocery bag over your hand to scoop.

The reason so many Canadians are disillusioned with politics is that there do not seem to be any principled politicians anymore. They died off with Lester Pearson, John Diefenbaker and Tommy Douglas. It has been downhill ever since. Leaders lie. They make promises they never intend to keep. (To be fair, they also make promises they cannot keep. They should have known that when they made the promise.)

Harper said the other day that he will appoint no more senators—those horses have already left the stable. Mulcair promises to abolish the Senate—wish him lots of luck figuring out how to do that. And Trudeau wandered to the right to suggest that elitists pick the senators—an idea his own party could not support.

Today we have the sight of Thomas Mulcair and Stephen Harper duking it out for the pragmatic middle ground. What is left for Justin Trudeau to do? Referee?

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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