Given our political differences, a kind retired couple who were born in the southern United States before emigrating to Alberta in the 1960s and who now reside in Wetaskiwin will, hopefully, smile with satisfaction and contentment at my admission that their former country has actually done something which should be emulated in Canada. However, I hope they don’t read too much more of this political diatribe for, if they do, I may find myself in a feud – similar to the one in which my McCoy ancestors, rightful, kind-hearted, god fearing, respectful, hard working and law abiding folk finally triumphed over those evil, wretched, pig-stealing, McCoy woman-stealing Hatfields. If the kindly retired couple alluded to earlier see this, a new feud may occur in Wetaskiwin involving a branch of the Chapman clan.
However, I digress. The one thing I can honestly profess that is superior in their former homeland is the adoption, from time immemorial, of the two party political system. Yes, that’s right, I said it – let’s stop feeling so smugly superior – even though we are – and adopt something else from America, besides baseball – the only worthwhile sport. If things are ever going to change for the better in Canada, our beloved, cherished nation must adopt the two party political system enjoyed by those Americans. It’s time Canada matured and adopted a strict two party system and abolishes the wimpy middle of the road three or four party vote splitting system we currently have.
Of course, as they read this, the Chapmans, the clever folk they are, are probably beginning to oil up their shooting irons and calling on their Wetaskiwin relatives to go gunning for some of those liberal revisionist McCoy varmints. You see, like the nineteenth century McCoy’s, I have an ulterior motive for my argument. I have come to realize that, short of an incredible act of self-destruction, Canada will likely have to endure more than a few years of good old Steven and his party as our government. Steven has already been quoted by the CBC – a fine Canadian institution if you’re not a conservative, that he would like to become the longest servng Conservative Prime Minister in Canadian history and eclipse the record held by our first PM, Sir John A Macdonald. This means that we will have to deal with or endure Steven for seven or eight more years. That’s a horrible thought to any enlightened, free-thinking liberal minded Canadian.
Steven has also said he likes the multi-party system due to the vote splitting it creates among the non-conservative parties – the ones who fight it out with each other only to see their hopes dashed on election night as voters across Canada begin to vote strategically to avoid the unavoidable as they did in the last election – a Conservative majority. The New Democrats and the Liberals have to stop
fighting for the table scraps left behind by the Conservatives and do the unthinkable – as painful as such a thought may be to both sides – if they ever hope to form a government in Canada. They have to end their political differences and unite in a centre-left movement – the Liberal-Democrats would be a nice name – and work together to end the Conservative ascendency which is so well entrenched throughout Canada and, gasp, Alberta. I mean if the Hatfield and McCoy kids could lower themselves to marry each other, why can’t the Liberals and New Democrats jump into bed together and become partners? Who knows what the results of such a union would be?
While many obstacles remain to be overcome, one of the first things to do is for the Liberals to enlist the services of the son of one of Canada’s most far-sighted visionary politicians, Pierre Trudeau. Sorry Alberta. The younger Trudeau may be reluctant to assume such a responsibility at this time but he seems to have many of the more admirable attributes of his late father – he’s articulate, compassionate, intelligent and has charisma, a trait his esteemed father possessed and used so effectively in the 60’s and 70’s. These traits would go a long way to strengthening the hold the New Democrats have on the young people in Quebec and Ontario – a segment of the population they must continue to attract in the other parts of Canada if they ever hope to form the government. Thomas Mulcair and the New Democrats would be foolish to ignore the advances of the Trudeau led Liberals while the latter group would be just as unwise not to seek the expertise and advice of the current opposition in a partnership.
Mulcair would serve as a political mentor for Trudeau the younger who may not desire or feel ready yet for such a position of power. While he may doubt his ability for such a role, a recent Ipsos-Reid poll to rate the five potential Liberal leaders, Trudeau, interim leader Bob Rae, who has said he will not seek the leadership, Marc Garneau, David McGuinty and MP Dominic LeBlanc, placed Trudeau as the leader with the support of thirty-five percent of the respondents. Rae was second with eighteen percent with Garneau third with sixteen percent. The results, according to IPSOS Reid CEO Darrel Bricker indicate that the Trudeau name is still popular and “…a breath of fresh air. He’s the one who seems to be making the news,” Bricker said. “He’s doing things that are kind of somewhat different than what people are used to.” The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted between June 5 and 7 and involved a sample of 1,010 Canadians who were interviewed online. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The combination of the two could leave PM Steven and his Conservatives colleagues facing a nationwide movement which the elder Trudeau drew on for so much of his electoral success in the 60’s and 70’s. Then, like now, the youth were, and are, much more politically astute than the Conservatives realize or care to admit. Already feeling ignored and becoming frustrated with their perceived lot in life, the Liberal- New Democrat alliance would, with wise strategic planning and decision making, be a force to reckon with. A second difficulty the unified party would have to surmount are their ideological differences which would have to be overcome by moving closer to each other through the identification and adoption of new issues and policies which strike a chord with the Canadian public. Blogger Den Tandt writing in The Liberals must embrace big, bold ideas to survive believes these areas could be education, food, energy and health care. Although education is a provincial matter, there are a number of overlapping areas the Liberal-New Democrats could use to distinguish themselves from their opponents. Most parents across Canada, for example, are believed to be against the granting of unearned marks – the zero percentage controversy now in the news – and the lack of negative consequences for misbehavior. Meritocracy, believes Tandt, is a Liberal idea. Secondly, both groups would be wise to adopt and work toward the idea of a national food policy which realizes and supports the importance of the family farm. The energy issue could be a touchy one for the Liberals and New Democrats to reach a consensus on but it must be done and once implemented would leave the unified party with a reputation for offering viable solutions to such an important national question.
A thorough examination of new and existing energy sources such as nuclear, natural gas, hydro, clean coal, solar and wind and their effects on the environment and people is needed. Even Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said a national energy approach is required. When I was a high school student, I remember a federal politician being lambasted and vilified in Alberta for his support of the National Energy Policy. Given that Alberta has long been a conservative bastion, what better way for a new party to make inroads toward political support than to listen to and work with the Alberta premier?
Health-care is another area which the Liberals and New Democrats must overcome their ideological differences due to fear of tackling such a controversial issue. The solutions are out there if the politicians are only willing to try to explore and adopt new ideas for the betterment of the people of Canada. Many of these differences can be overcome with a philosophical attitude change or compromise. The result will be an awareness in the minds of the Canadian public that the new political entity is offering new and insightful solutions to the medical questions which the Conservatives seem to be afraid to deal with. These are only a few areas which could be adopted by a new unified party and there are many more which would be attractive to voters across Canada who are tiring of the Conservative ascendency.
Failure on the behalf of the Liberals and New Democrats to try to unite into one party will only result in the same result as the last election. It brings to mind the story of another McCoy, Jesse from Gonzales, Texas who, one day in 1836, found himself in a small mission fort in San Antonio as hundreds of angry Mexicans stormed the refuge he and two hundred other liberty loving individuals had held in the dream of creating a new and improved political system.