After a weekend of listening and watching political panels that all tackled the thorny issue of the future relevance of the Liberal Party of Canada, I am beginning to feel that the dire predictions that the Grits may be reduced to third party status are coming to fruition.
I originally thought that Peter Newman's insightful book, When The Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada, was a bit premature. However, with the election of Thomas Mulcair, the death watch has become sport. Even former Prime Minister
Jean Chretien has been in the news suggesting it is time for a united left, a new party that is neither Liberal nor NDP. He has been suggesting that he should have broughe the NDP into his majority cabinets and united the progressives. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that the NDP are now in the drivers seat and the new leader is making the case that his party may be the only option to stop Harper. It is the same argument that kept the Conservatives at bay for 10 years, only it was used by the Liberals. If Quebec stays with Mulcair, traditional Liberal voters will have some serious strategic thinking to do.
Another issue, left of center liberals have been out of fashion in the Liberal Party since the emergence of Paul Martin. The Liberal Party was a center, if not slightly right of center party. This does not make for a formula that guarantees the NDP will become the home of stranded liberals or other progressives.
Canada needs a party that is willing to champion the centrist policies that
created an economic golden age. in the post-war era.
Mulcair has not established a big tent party. He is determined to bring his party closer to the center. The tent has not expanded enough to make these liberals feel comfortable. As well, do Canadian's want to go back to a two party system? The challenge for the old "natural governing party" is that they have been relegated to that third party role. The best they can hope for is a coalition, if the opportunity presents itself.
Lawrence Martin's column in yesterday's Globe & Mail offers the NDP a bit of plan. He says the NDP should focus on what the Harper Conservatives have done to our democracy. He suggests that a campaign reinvigorating democracy juxtaposed agaisnt this current Kremlin-like environment is the ticket to ride.
I liked the article but I think the NDP need to beef up their economic platforms. It is their Achilles heel. Canadians may not appreciate being lied to or deceived, but the economy prevails at the ballot box.