So, the Liberal Party of Canada has had a crappy few years. The centre of left party had a great run with Jean Chretien at the helm,
balancing the budget and eliminating the deficit. However, it wasn’t without its scandals and problems. Failure of the Meech Lake Accord and Prime Minister Chretien’s strong stance on federalism cost the party a lot of Quebec seats (though gaining some seats back in 1997 due to infighting in the Bloc). There were some beauties like the support of same sex marriage and Chretien’s refusal to invade Iraq, which was largely supported.
Chretien retired in 2003 and paved the way for former Minister of Finance Paul Martin to take the helm. However, in the 2004 election the Liberals were shrunk down to a minority leadership. Issues like the sponsorship scandal and the findings of the Gomery Commission that followed suit turned the public against the Liberals very quickly. Lo and behold, in 2006, they fell apart and paved way for the first Conservative minority. Boo.
Since then, the Liberal party has been having issues regaining its footing. When Paul Martin stepped down, prominent members of the Liberal party decided not to run for leadership of the party, and the mess and bad public image was inherited first by Stephane Dion. Now, while he was a very nice guy, the language barrier alienated him from the West quite a bit, and the Conservatives had an effective smear campaign. He stepped down.
Enter Michael Ignatieff.
Now, don’t get me wrong, he inherited a mess of a party. The country is apparently still suffering from what the media has called “Liberal Fatigue” and it really is difficult to achieve much when you’re trying to fix your party. He also gets the brunt of some ridiculous attack ads from the Conservatives that question his love for Canada. He’s also getting the brunt of Republican style slanders about his “elitism”, a charge that always makes me snort and chortle a bit.
Problem is……he is kinda pompous. That’s coming from someone who likes some elitism in her politics. He comes off as a bit harsh in interviews and while politicians are certainly great at the artful dodge, he’s pretty obvious when dodging questions. He also has this REALLY annoying laugh when a reporter asks a question involving Harper (I know that’s not a big issue, but it grates). The thing about being in politics is that you do have to appeal to the people, and braining too hard won’t win you the West.
He has also made some great missteps in his career as leader of the opposition. He attempted to bring down the government in 2009, despite the fact that polls showed that the country did not want an election. Thanks to the NDP, Harper survived, but support for the Liberals dropped again after that stunt. Potentially alienating Liberal voters who sit more to the left, he supported the extension of the mission in Afghanistan and went from supporting tougher environmental measures to backing off on it. Not to mention his putting a kibosh on a coalition if the Conservatives get another minority, which is something a lot of progressives would probably want. His inconsistency on reproductive health was a death knell for a lot of progressive women as well. So, while he’s not winning any votes from what’s essentially our version of the red states, he’s pushing away a lot of voters who do appreciate the left part of the centre. In releasing the party platform for our election, it has been remarked that a lot of ideas are cribbed from the NPD, probably in hopes of gaining back the leftist vote. But with these inconsistencies, why would any leftist be inclined?
If the Liberal party wants to regain prominence in Canada’s politics, it needs to fix its public image and gain some consistency. We all know it’s easier said than done, and we all know that there’s no such thing as a perfect party. But the country hasn’t forgiven the past yet and the left members of the party are being pushed away.
Got any other links, dirt or maybe some hope for other Liberals out there? As always, I love sharing!