Don’t fear election

We keep hearing that the Liberals are not ready to govern the country because their house is not in order. Which seems to suggest that we need to keep the Conservatives in power, even in a minority government.

Once referred to as Canada’s natural governing party, the Liberals have been struggling to find their footing, obviously very uncomfortable in the role of opposition.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of anything but our democratic freedom.

It is time for people to stop being afraid of having to vote again. And it is also time to stop being attached to the message that we don’t want to go through yet another election. Are we really so disengaged or, conversely, so secure in our lifestyles that we find it a burden to exercise our franchise? Is complacency the best answer we can come up with even as we who are most comfortable in the centre of the political spectrum are inched along into a retrograde socio-political culture?

It has been argued that, led by Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal complicity with so many of the Harper government’s initiatives and policy changes makes the two parties almost indistinguishable. It has even been suggested, amid all the buzz about a pre-election coalition between the Liberals and the New Democrats, that perhaps a more compatible coalition would be one between the Conservatives and the Liberals. But there are major differences in the driving philosophies that separate these parties.

One of the major differences, of course, is the Conservatives’ comfort zone at the right of the political spectrum. They did seem to spend a somewhat brief, maybe even uncomfortable, sojourn at the centre where, we believe, most Canadians can be found. Now, however, the retreat seems to be on.

As a democracy, we the people can push for a shift back to the centre, unless we are becoming desensitized to the authoritarian, American style of management that is emerging, or truly believe that the Conservatives can govern better than the Liberals.

Another misleading notion that has been given primacy is that the Conservative government is the only one capable of handling the current economy. It should be remembered that the Liberals have also done as well, if not better, managing our economy. Wasn’t it the Liberals under Paul Martin that left a $7 billion surplus, which the Harper Conservatives whittled away thanks to tax cuts and largesse?

There has to be some irony in the idea that lack of confidence in Ignatieff as prime minister could be greater than the wariness of having Stephen Harper in the job. This is a political leader who pointedly promised transparency. Has he delivered that? Has he delivered on fixed election dates? Has he been open about the question of whether the government released Afghan detainees into the hands of Afghan officials with the knowledge that they could be tortured in contravention of the United Nations rules governing such transfers?

The Liberal party is competent and capable to govern, if called upon to do so, and if Ignatieff, given the chance to govern the country, is able to heed the seasoned advice of members of his party then we have nothing to fear in risking a change of government in an election.

What we are saying here is that there is no need to fear an election if one is called and there is no need for the Liberals to fear forcing one if they see the need. Canadians will decide and if they choose to re-elect the Conservatives, the Liberals will have to live with that decision. For the Liberals to continue holding their noses and allowing the Conservatives to legislate in a manner with which a majority of Canadians might be uncomfortable is not serving us well.

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