Monday, December 10, 2007

On mushiness

Just over a year ago, the Libs went through a convention which was supposed to offer a chance for party renewal. So let's take a look at just what kind of inspiring new vision they've managed to develop under their new leader. From David McGuinty in the Hill Times:
"When Mr. Dion kicks off the campaign, in due course, whenever that happens, I'm confident that he will present to the Canadian people the same kind of scenario and that is if you want to stop a right-wing Republican-like party, which is embedded in its Alliance Reform DNA, then you have to make the choice. You either have to vote for the Liberal Party of Canada who can form the government or you'll have to vote directly or indirectly to support the Conservative Party of Canada," said Mr. McGuinty.

"They [NDP] fear what they know is coming, which is ultimately a two-way race in Canadian society to decide whether they want a centrist party possibly even a centrist-left party, i.e., the Liberal Party of Canada, or do they want a right-wing party."
Now, the gap between words and actions is reason enough not to take the Libs seriously. After all, the same party which now plans to sell itself as devoted to "stopping" the Cons is also the one which has been deliberately propping up the Harper government since this fall's throne speech. And an opposition party trying to position itself as the comparatively left-wing option presumably shouldn't be egging a right-wing government on toward even more gratuitous corporate tax cuts than it already had planned.

But perhaps more interesting is McGuinty's choice to portray the Lib/Con dichotomy as centre-against-right - with "possibly even centre-left" seemingly tossed out as McGuinty's idea of a carrot for progressive voters.

From what I can tell, McGuinty is operating under the assumption that left-wing Canadians will be entirely happy to see a continued shift of Canada's political centre toward the right as left-of-centre ideas receive - at best - some "possible" role within the Libs. And of course, that effect can only be amplified by both the Libs' track record of shifting to the right in government, and their unwillingness to stand up to the Cons while in opposition.

Fortunately, voters aren't stuck taking McGuinty's word as to what options they'll have at the polls. And with the Libs having shown no sign of new ideas or new principles after their effort at internal renewal, a wholesale electoral shift to the NDP offers the best opportunity for a real countervailing force against the Cons - and the only option for a strong left-wing voice on the federal political scene.

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