Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Benefits of a Minority Government

The Liberals have been soundly trounced. Not the wholesale slaughter that the Kim Campbell Conservatives experienced eons ago (where they were virtually wiped out) but a sound thrashing just the same. Judging by both the popular vote and the huge loss of seats, it is clear that Canadians have not been satisfied with Liberal performance of late.

According to the CBC coverage on election night, minority governments have an average lifespan of fourteen months so it may not be too long before we go through the whole spectacle again.

Before then, however, we should see further developments in the criminal proceedings surrounding what is now generally known as “adscam” and that might whet the public’s desire for a change in governance in the next two years. Also in the meantime we will see who the Liberals name as the new Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada as well as how they deal with the fallout following the notoriously flawed Marriage Reference that is due to be argued this fall before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Will they begin to show some real sense and consider, for example, “civil unions” rather than continue down the road of forcing a “trump rights” conception of same-sex marriage on the population? Better the State out of the bedrooms of the nation, which means looking at financial dependency not “sexual relationships” as the key for federal benefits.

For the moment, the Liberals are just hiding their heads in the sand and pretending that “same-sex civil marriage” is something that the Charter requires when all they have to do is get out of using a “marriage” category to give benefits. But such forward thinking would not suit the radicals that want “same-sex marriage” and the Liberals have lacked the imagination to do anything about this. They did not add “civil unions” as a possible category to the Marriage Reference and, by failing to do so, are simply perpetuating an ugly future of litigation amongst Canadian communities who will never agree about the acceptability of “same-sex marriage.” Too bad that.

I, for one, welcome the fact that, at long last, there will actually have to be some compromise and “deal making” amongst the political parties since the Liberals no longer command a majority position.

What sorts of deals the NDP and the Bloc want to make in exchange for their support of the Liberals, however, will have to be watched closely and it will not be lost on the Liberals that tenuous hold on several seats in the West and a strong Conservative showing in Ontario mean that they will have to tread carefully.

Paul Martin has shown himself to lack strong convictions on “social issues” - - if his flip-flop on the use of the notwithstanding clause in relation to same-sex marriage (originally he indicated he was in favour of using the clause then, latterly, against it) is any indication of how easily he can be shifted by his handlers in response, no doubt, to polling results.

Once again the Liberals resorted to “scare tactics” during this campaign and portrayed, it would seem successfully, the Conservatives as “scary.” Their fear of strong Conservative poll results led them into wilder and wilder portrayals of the “scary” nature of the Conservatives. It just insulted ones intelligence.

When will Canadians learn that such tactics just treat them as fools? Mind you, if the electorate responds to such tactics then what is to stop certain kinds of politicians from “negative politicking?”

Some excellent M.P.’s made it through from various parties and I for one was glad to see many excellent returning candidates. Returning are M.P.s:
Jason Kenney (Conservative)
John McKay (Liberal)
Bill Blaikie (NDP)
David Kilgour (Liberal)
Bev Desjarlais (NDP)
Diane Ablonczy (Conservative)
Maurice Vellacott (Conservative)

The above survive to continue to make some sensible and necessary arguments in Ottawa. We are particularly glad to see some who have attended Centre events in the past

One hopes that the Liberal M.P.’s will show greater respect for democracy than the NDP has done historically and refuse to be subjected to the indignity of “block voting” rules within their party. Should a few strong M.P.’s stand up to attempts to “toe the party line” then this will be one of the more interesting Parliaments in Canadian history.

Goodness knows, Canada has had, for far too long what Conrad Black, in another context, has referred to as “the hermetically sealed echo chamber” of Canadian politics. Now, thankfully, it looks as if there will be some other voices added to the cacophony.

Iain T. Benson ©