There’s a lot to be said for the current political turmoil in Canada. While it has put the general public in a state of unease, it has also managed to draw the focus of the day-to-day apathetic Canadian to the political arena, which is a rather rare happening.
Say what you will about whether the inclusion of the Conservative governments controversial move to cut out taxpayer funding for political parties was an astute move or a glaring error, the overall consequence of the move – then subsequent backpedal – is nothing compared to the embarrassing miscalculation by the three opposition parties with their flimsy coalition.
With newspapers filled with daily revelations about just how far back this ‘coalition’ was planned and by whom, the credibility of the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc has all but disappeared. The double-talk has been at light speed, with excuse after excuse (never the same one twice) flying in the futile attempt to convince Canadians that this was nothing other than the obvious – a blatant power grab by the losers of the recent election.
They said it was in reaction to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s rather impressive economic update. They lied. Then they said it was because it did not include a comprehensive ‘fiscal stimulus’ package (read: Ontario auto industry and Quebec manufacturing industry bail-outs). Again, not true.
We learn that not only was this planned before Canadians had even made their way to the polls, now we hear allegations that many Liberal candidates and party leaders knew about it – and were told to keep their mouths shut. It is apparent that the Party of Adscam hasn’t learned its lesson.
Instead of jumping en masse on to a coalition that would have seen – did someone say embarrassing? – Stephane Dion installed as our Prime Minister, socialist Jack Layton in charge of the environment and the national economy, and separatist Gilles Duceppe as the puppet master behind the scenes, Canadians instead saw it for what it was: as an attempt at vetoing the millions of votes which gave Stephen Harper a strengthened minority and a clear message to fix the economy.
We saw it as reinforcement and confirmation of what we suspected: that the federal Liberals are so convinced that they are and shall always be the rightful leaders of the nation that will sell their soul (even to a separatist party) in order to grab power, with absolutely no respect for democracy. They almost show a proud distain for it, in fact.
There is another effect that we are seeing in Alberta and, in a lesser way, other areas in Western Canada. Long being called ‘the most patriotic province in the nation’, to which I’ve always suspected to be a transparent ploy by the East, Alberta has witnessed a rise in pro-independence sentiment. While this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone from the province, as there has always been underlying support for more provincial autonomy, it is the people who are open to the idea of more independence that is different from the past.
Once thought of as a fringe movement populated mostly by the far rightwing and the over 50 crowd, those Albertans who now publicly support the idea of independence in the face of yet another Eastern hijacking of national power – and an unmistakable rejection of Albertan and Western Canadian values – are from every background, race, religion, and financial spectrum.
The affluent and the financially struggling, white collar and blue collar, young and old, Albertans are saying that enough is finally enough.
With Michael Ignatieff now at the controls of the Liberals, the ball is now his to run with. With the image as an intellectual giant, Ignatieff must surely realize that continuing the coalition hi-jinx can only do his own chances of electoral victory harm. If he is as tuned in to the national political scene as he proclaims, then he knows that failure to work with the Harper government come next January could cost Canada more than just a budget.
Unity itself could be the cost.