While prepping my vehicle for a month of travelling across the Delta to cover a spring of jamborees, news that the federal NDP will support Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government up to 2025 is trickling its way in.
If it goes as planned, Canadians will come out of it with a national dental program. Talks are underway to enshrine current Early Childcare agreements into law, like medicare. The rapid housing initiative will get another year extension and the Liberals will look into changing the definition of affordable housing — presumably to make it more accessible.
I’ve previously pointed out the last federal election was a complete waste of time and money and stand by that, so it’s a welcome fact we won’t be subject to electioneering while we navigate the Ukraine crisis, further Covid-19 developments and the energy transition, all of which need a steady hand at the wheel if we’re going to come out of these scenarios intact.
Of course, those left out of the deal are crying bloody murder, even though this effectively gives them an opportunity to clean up their own internal affairs and prepare a coherent strategy for the next election.
But for their loyal supporters demanding outrage, they must play the part. Which is a serious problem.
In reality, these sort of deals are normal in the Westminster Parliamentary System and happen without incident in Commonwealth nations across the planet. Many countries operate in minority parliaments at least half the time. The idea this is anything other than normal politics is nonsense.
By making this something it isn’t, the Conservatives risk re-igniting the western outrage that erupted when Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton agreed to a coalition government in 2008, only to be stopped by Stephen Harper proroguing parliament — which was also a legal play. The widespread display of public ignorance was alarming then. To try and rekindle it in 2022 is downright dangerous.
One would hope that after years of anti-science and anti-liberal rhetoric escalated into a mob occupying central Ottawa for three weeks and blockading several key trade corridors, responsible leaders would take pause to re-examine how they’re leading.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case, which is bad news for the Conservatives and democracy in general. The more they nurture the rage-bubble many of their followers live in, the less chance of meaningful dialogue with the growing number of us outside it. It also prevents conservative parties from doing their job of providing voters with reasonable set of choices to respond to the problems our society currently faces.
Ask yourself — what is the conservative answer to climate change? Labour displacement from automation? Reconciliation? Systematic racism? We hear plenty of what’s wrong with solutions being implemented, but little in the way of better ideas. At best, we get half-solutions experts quickly rip apart, which is then dismissed as media bias instead of poor policy planning.
It wasn’t always this way. For example, Brian Mulroney was once called Canada’s greenest prime minister and led the global charge to end apartheid in South Africa. John Diefenbaker signed off on the project that became Inuvik.
But by constantly playing the outrage card, modern Conservatives are in serious danger of making themselves politically irrelevant. We need leadership, not rhetoric.