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Saturday, January 14, 2012

We all need a healthy Liberal Party

By this time, the grits will be well into their policy convention at Ottawa. I gather from Warren Kinsella’s blog that the weather is pretty bad up that way, though attendance doesn’t seem to be suffering. And that’s a good thing, for Canada does not need a permanently crippled federal Liberal party, no more than it needs a crippled Conservative party.

Yes, I spend a lot of my time bashing the Liberals and hope they stay out of office for the next two or so federal elections. But not permanently. None of the Western democracies have benefited when a political party stays too long in office. Three full terms seems about the limit for political parties to remain effective. After that, frankly, they all begin to stink. Of course, we don’t know for sure what the political shelf-life is for the federal NDP; I suspect its about 10 days.

When the Liberals discipline themselves enough to govern from the centre, they do okay. It’s when they chase after Dippers and give in to the Bob Raes, Martha Hall-Finlays, et al in their midst that they go offside.

Of course, the Grits need a leader that has the courage to take the centre and hold it. And that’s NOT Bob Rae. Rae may tell us he is of the centre–left, but that’s only after he’s shifted the marker so that the centre-point shows somewhere about one-third the way from the left end.

Canadians, as a whole, seem to be most comfortable with a party governing at the centre—whether a little bit to the left or to the right does not seem to matter much. I personally like centre-right for a government on social policy and more right than that for fiscal policy. I also like to see provincial jurisdictions respected—better to make the policies closest to where the implementation and maintenance will occur—and not have the feds duplicating effort. That’s why I like the current Conservative party.

But back to the Liberal party.

Canadian Liberals seem to cover the broad span of the political left, so, if we lose a party on the left, I’d rather we lose the Dippers with their hard-left elements.

Hard-left governments have failed everywhere they’ve had the opportunity to govern. It’s only when they bring in elements of free-market economics that they stay above water. And, once they do that, their citizens begin to ask for more individual freedoms, human rights, etc. And hard-left parties can’t bare to operate that way, so the inevitably fail.

A healthy federal Liberal party will not guarantee a healthy democracy for Canadians, but I don’t like our chances without it.

Copyright © 2012 Russell G. Campbell

1 comment — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. You premise that when a Conservative government becomes corrupt or stale we need a nice safe middle-of-the-road Liberal Party as a fallback. I can't imagine the Conservatives ever reaching such a dissolute state as the average Liberal government of the last sixty years. (Conservatives, not PC's) The existence of a continuum of ever more left-wing politicians divided into center-left, left and ultra-left parties serves our interests as vote splitters, but please don't honor the Liberals with any notion that they are an acceptable alternative.

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