Thursday, May 12, 2005

Justin Trudeau and The Liberals: He's Right!

"You get back out of the woods, you regain a certain amount of perspective." - Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. 

Justin Trudeau believes "...the Liberals could use some time in the wilderness." Trudeau could be no closer to the truth. I have noticed that political parties, no matter what their political stripe, at both the provincial and federal level start getting arrogant and untrustworthy the longer they serve.

Take a look at the Jean Chretien Liberals. The sponsorship scandal erupted around 2000. The Liberals had been in power since 1993. Thus, near the end of the 2nd term the Liberals started to take the electorate for granted.

Take a look at the Mike Harris Conservatives in Ontario. The threatened sale of Hydro One to private investors got people up in arms. The Conservatives, even under the next Premier, Ernie Eves, started tanking in decision making including the "Magna Autoparts budget" which was the first provincial budget delivered outside the provincial legislature in provincial history according to provincial political observers.

Why do political parties start to get arrogant? I am unsure of a finite answer but have some theories. One, which Trudeau agrees on in the article, is sloppiness. A government that has lacked serious opposition from both opposing political parties and outside forces becomes arrogant. This arrogance comes from the belief that the governing party can do absolutely anything and maintain the support of the electorate because there is no credible party to take their place. That is perhaps what the Liberals thought and implemented the sponsorship program which, according to Auditor General Sheila Fraser, "broke just about every rule in the book." If you break "just about every rule in the book" with the sponsorship program, doesn't that sound like a fine case of sloppiness?

We also know that the Liberals, after the fall of the Conservative Party in 1993, really hasn't had a credible opposition that could remotely threaten the Liberal's chances at being re-elected with even a minority government until recently. Hence, after three consecutive majorities, the Liberals started to get sloppy believing Canadians wouldn't elect anyone else but them.

The other possibility of governing parties becoming problems is angering the wrong people at the wrong time. Take the Ontario Conservatives. Sure they won back to back majorities. However, the issues of health care and education became problems during the first term of the Conservatives. Why did these issues become problems? Because the unions associated with these issues started making noise about not being consulted. The Conservatives should have at least tried to negotiate with the unions about needed changes both the education and health ministries. Instead the nurses, doctors, teachers and school boards started to make noise about how bad the unilateral changes would have on their respective government services. The Conservatives won their second majority because most people were not believing what they were hearing. However after several hospitals were closed or fought over and reopened (see Montfort Hospital in Ottawa) and waiting times in Emergency Rooms started to increase, the Conservatives Days were numbered.

Also, the sloppiness of the Conservative's decision of letting the market decide electricity rates which forced a large increase in hydro bills to homeowners, didn't help either.

At the federal level, the Liberals were not smart at all by promising the same things over and over again. However, Torontonians don't seem to get it. The money for the redevelopment of the waterfront has now been promised twice by the federal Liberals and yet very little has been done with the exception of study after study. When will the voters of the Toronto say enough with the press conferences and throwing more money at Toronto's waterfront redevelopment when nothing is happening except discussion? Hopefully soon.

Thus, with the increasing popularity and increasingly stronger opposition to the Liberals in Ottawa, the Conservatives might be able to take over in possibly a minority government. With the likes up and coming political stars like Belinda Stronach (MP Newmarket-Aurora and Conservative International Trade Critic) and Peter MacKay (MP for Central Nova Scotia and Conservative Deputy Party leader) the Conservatives are starting to gain political strength and popularity. Hopefully the Conservatives can help out Trudeau and all Canadians and eventually end the arrogance that has caused problems for the Liberals. Thus, hopefully the Liberals might have an opportunity to "...get some time in the wilderness."

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