Iggy, the Liberal Import
The Natural Governing Party, R.I.P.
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The Liberal Party of Canada has long been known as the Natural Governing Party and Liberals consider themselves to be the only true political party that is fit to govern Canada. To Liberals, Liberal Party values are synonymous with Canadian values. They consider the occasional election of another party to power as nothing more than a blip; something that occurs every once in awhile when the government has been around too long and has grown tired. Liberals see themselves as the star player who, while occasionally is benched to get a rest, is still the star.
The Liberal Party has no policy ideas to speak of other than those that they can steal from other sources, usually the NDP. The total purpose of their existence is not to form a vision of what the country should be but to obtain and hold power. It has been said that Liberals have only two core beliefs; they believe in God and they believe that God is a Liberal. But in order to achieve their prime directive the party needs a leader who understands power and the party has been lacking a competent leader since late 2003 when Jean Chrétien stepped down.
Chrétien was the consummate politician who knew and understood how to get and keep power. He played it perfectly all the way to his “little guy from Shawinigan” persona. And if Jean Chrétien had any great policy ideas it is difficult to recall them. Had Chrétien decided not to retire he would be prime minister today and few people would know where Stephen Harper would be. And fewer would care. Jean Chrétien was the last Liberal leader to appreciate the Liberal Party’s role as being the country’s natural governing party.
Chrétien was followed by Paul Martin Jr. Martin, who spent so much time and so many years seeking the office of prime minister that he never thought about what he would do when he got there. It was not unusual for Paul Martin to be on both sides of the issue, earning him the moniker (by the prestigious Economist no less) of `Mr. Dithers’. The Liberals lost power under Martin, not because the party was stale or had been around too long but because like the tragic Hamlet, Martin simply could not make up his mind – on anything.
Stéphane Dion became the next Liberal leader and failed to grasp the central plank of his party. He actually believed that the Liberals should stand for something and came up with a major policy. Mistake number one. Mistake number two was the policy itself; a carbon tax. While it’s true that paying more and more tax seems to be a Canadian pastime, Dion completely misjudged the mood of Canadians who simply were not prepared to pay higher gasoline, home heating and other costs to achieve Dion’s vision of saving the planet. Bye bye, Steffi.
Dion was followed by Michael Ignatieff who was seen as the natural successor to Pierre Elliot Trudeau. It turned out Iggy was actually a successor to Stéphane Dion, without the latter’s personality. The rookie politician and an import at that at least understands that the Liberals are all about power. But he’s way too inexperienced in the world of politics to understand how to get it. Since becoming Liberal leader he’s done nothing but threaten to bring down Stephen Harper, a prime minster that a lot of Canadians aren’t too crazy about. But the polls; the guiding light of the Liberal party are not favourable and Iggy keeps backing down from his threats. Ignatieff also has the problem of trying to gain power during extremely difficult times. He criticizes the governing Tories for spending too much on stimulating the economy when even the dumbest of the unwashed masses know that the Liberals would have spent more. Ignatieff blames Harper for Canada’s poor performance during the recession when everyone knows that Canada has weathered the downturn better than most other countries. And he says that things are getting worse when we can all see that they are getting better. Michael Igatieff simply doesn’t have the patience or the timing to grab power. Poor Iggy.
With the exception of the delusional NDP leader Jack Layton everyone realizes that there are only two parties capable of governing Canada. Eventually the Tories will fall and be replaced by the Liberals. But if the Liberal Party continues to select its leaders like they have on the last three occasions, their days of being Canada’s Natural Governing Party are over.