If the Liberals can win another majority government after everything they’ve done, Canadian democracy is officially dead. That, however, is not the worst of all possible outcomes- that would be a Liberal minority in coalition with the NDP, a possibility which the media is already trying to prepare us for. As a gushing story in Saturday’s National Post (I think) reminded us it was the Liberals, in coalition with the NDP, that brought us such wonderful innovations as Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, the Maple Leaf Flag, Bilingualism, the unification of the armed forces, liberal divorce laws, the legalization of homosexuality, and all the other wonders which have shaped our modern world.
We head into an election with five possible outcomes:
1) A fourth straight Liberal majority government: still, in all probability, the most likely outcome- but far from a certainty. We won’t really know for sure if the Liberals will be able to win another majority until we get a look at the post-writ polls in Ontario. If their numbers there manage to hover close to fifty, they’ll probably hold most of what they have. The closer they get to forty, the more likely a minority government of one sort or another becomes.
2) A Liberal minority government supported by the NDP: The second most likely scenario is that the Liberals will manage to hold one hundred and forty or so seats and then govern together with the NDP. A disaster in the making.
3) A Conservative minority government with tactical support from the Bloc: If the Conservatives can win fifty seats in Ontario and hold about seventy-five seats across the rest of the nation, with the NDP winning about twenty and the Bloc winning fifty-five, and the Liberals one hundred and eight, they might be able to take tenuous hold of the government. For how long and how successfully are both open questions.
4) A Conservative majority government: For this to happen the Tories will have to take something like eighty seats in Ontario, sweep the West, and win a fair numbers of seats in the Maritimes. A slim possibility but, amazingly enough, a possibility nonetheless.
5) A hung Parliament: Suppose that the end results of the election end up looking like this- one hundred and thirty Liberals, one hundred Conservatives, fifty-five Bloc members and twenty-three New Democrats (or something close to that). To form a government any party will require at least one hundred and fifty-five seats (and, in reality, many more than that). The Liberals will have the most seats so they will be asked first to form a government but, even with the NDP, they will lack the seats to do so. Similarly, for the Conservatives to even make it through a throne speech, every single member of the Bloc Québécois would have to stand with them. An unlikely prospect, to say the least.
In the event of a hung Parliament, we’d have to go back to the polls. In fact, I’d suggest that in the event of either a Liberal-NDP coalition or a Conservative-Bloc coalition, we should expect a swift second election. As things stand now, I’d suggest that there’s at least a 50% chance that we will be going to the polls for a second time before Christmas.
Polls show that Canadians have expressed a desire for minority government as a check on the power wielded by various recent administrations. Of course, they’ll change their tune once they get a look at what minority government would actually look like. Can you imagine what twenty wild-eyed New Democratic socialists will demand of Paul Martin in exchange for helping him keep his job? The Bloc and the Conservatives don’t agree on anything except for giving more power to the Provinces and throwing the Liberals out.
The hope, then, rests with Ontario. It is time that Ontarians do their duty as decent human beings and send the Liberals MP’s they’ve been sending to Ottawa for a decade home, where they can only steal from their own families and tyrannize their own spouses and children. A near-sweep by the Conservatives in Ontario is our only hope.
Once in power, I might add, a Conservative government must act to actually change the country, not merely to hold power for its own sake. While the Liberals may, based upon history, rightfully lay claim to the mantle of the natural party of Canadian government it is also the case that, from time to time, the corruption and arrogance of the Liberals becomes too much even for the Canadian people and, accordingly, the Liberals are given a little bit of time to pout in opposition.
However, these periods are always fleeting at best. Just as the Liberals came back after they were beaten by Diefenbaker and Mulroney so too will they return if they are defeated by Harper. It’s only a question of time.
Therefore, any Conservative government must articulate an agenda of real and irreversible reform. Some, for example, have proposed that a Conservative government ought to gradually privatize the CBC over a period of years. Nonsense, I say: we don’t know if we have years. Better to sell the damned thing off- and not to one company, from which it may be re-acquired by some future Liberal government, but to as many companies as possible in order to not only destroy the CBC, but to salt the Earth from which Canadian Pravda sprang.
The same theory should guide our approach to Indian Affairs. If we make some small, incremental, change then the Liberals can come back in and change it right back. If, on the other hand, we break forever the power of Hereditary Chiefs and other two-bit thugs by destroying the communal economies that keep Canadian natives down in the form of the Indian Act and Indian Reservations well, it’s highly unlikely that the Liberals are ever going to order some future generation of Indians back into reserves. Break them up and give a little parcel of land to every Aboriginal in the country.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here. First we need to win. However, in my opinion, the best way to assure that we win and win big is to put forward an agenda of ideas. The worst thing we could possibly do now is to pin our hopes to the public anger at Liberal mismanagement and make our campaign platform a package of well-focus-grouped and vague promises about how much more money we’re prepared to shovel down the health care sinkhole.
Remember: when Mike Harris’ Tories in Ontario put forward a tough and well-articulated conservative platform they won in spite of much media hang-wringing. If the media and the Liberals call us un-Canadian, we ought to take it as a compliment. After all, look at the mess the Liberals have made of a once-great country ever since, in the Pearson-Trudeau years, they came to define it.