It always used to puzzle us how American politicians could use the word ‘Liberal’ as a pejorative. They seem to consider it a swear word. It was like a Conservative politician we used to know could say the word ‘Grit’ as though it was something that had to be rinsed out of a diaper. He got away with it because he could smile as he said it.
It is probably why we are aware of the sensitivities of the right-wing. It also explains why we try to stay away from discussing the loony-tunes extremists among the Conservatives. We know that the average Conservative voter is not a mean, selfish, prig who looks down on the less fortunate in our society as useless ne’er-do-wells. Mind you, how some people can support the shallow, ill-considered policies of a politician such as Conservative Leader Tim Hudak in Ontario is something of a mystery.
Conservative politics cares about the history of society while Liberal politics cares about the individual in that society. Conservatism focuses on ownership while Liberalism focuses on the owners. As philosophies, Conservatism sees evolution as the way for society to progress and Liberalism believes in innovation. As political parties though, it is sometimes hard to tell one from the other.
And this is the problem. We need better distinction. The Liberal Party in Canada needs to better define itself as left of centre. The party has to state its case. It can no longer be the “big red tent” of yesterday. It can no longer pander to its right wing. It can no longer wander sideways in appealing to both sides of the political spectrum.
For too many years the fiction of the Liberal Party being a ‘middle-of-the-road party’ has been a mantra, a balancing act for weaselling with the voters. There were those who disgusted the real Liberals with the crude advice to campaign on the left and govern on the right. They were ones who loved power more than people. They were the John Turner, the Jean Chrétien, the Paul Martin. These ‘Liberals’ broke faith with their party. They were not what they promised the Canadian people.
We need real Liberals as leaders. We need Liberal policies for Canada. We need to reclaim our international honour. We need innovative government. We need trust. We need to keep our word with Canadians and the world. We need to be small “L” liberals as well as Liberal Party members.
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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