I joined the Liberal Party in order to vote in the leadership thing. Having done so, I will now duly unjoin.
The idea of me being a Liberal is ridiculous. I am sufficiently an Albertan (albeit ex) of a certain age (getting on) to regard the Liberals as the party of the Ontario elite — the old “Leave everything to us, we’ll take care of Canada” crowd. Of course, they’ve not been able to exercise their beneficence upon the rest of us for awhile, but I have no doubts that, given the chance to form government again, especially a majority one, they’d happily pick up where they left off.
And, of course, they are a party that stands for precisely nothing other than the desire to hold power. Which, in turn, is why they’ve just elected a new leader who also stands for precisely nothing — unless you regard dreaminess as a platform.
I joined the Liberals in order to vote for Joyce Murray, the candidate who proposed that the Liberals, NDP, and Greens join forces in certain swing ridings and agree that only one of them will run a candidate — thus avoiding the vote-splitting that gets the Conservatives elected. The idea is that, once one of the three parties formed the government, they would then further collaborate to change the current first-past-the-post electoral system. Then, having done so, they would revert to their traditional roles as rivals.
Murray earned 3,130 points under the Liberals’ novel, and welcome, new voting system. That was light years behind Trudeau’s 24,668 points, of course, but enough to earn her second place, well ahead of third-place Martha Hall Findlay (1,760 points). No doubt that had something to do with fifth columnists like me (though I should say that I have never been a member of a political party before now, and don’t anticipate, once I parachute from the Liberals, being one again; I can’t handle the volume of e-mails). But if the Liberals jettison Murray’s idea — which has also been championed by Nathan Cullen of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Greens — it will be at their own peril, not to mention that of the rest of us who would like to see an end to what is now appropriately called the Harper regime.
The Liberals may be feeling bullish this morning, but they must know this honeymoon will last about as long as [insert reference to short-lived celebrity marriage here]. The very advantage that got Trudeau elected party leader — that name — is an even greater liability in large swathes of the country. Whether he’s a policy lightweight by calculation or by nature, the result is the same — the NDP and Cons are going to be able to label him a dumb brunette. And on the stump, he presents as poorly as Ignatieff did. Once you get past the idea that he’s some sort of return to his father’s stylishness, you realize he’s no such thing. Where Ignatieff was reedy and wooden, Trudeau is hammy and forced. Where Ignatieff was smarmy, Trudeau is . . . smarmy.
So, my erstwhile Liberal brethren, the sooner you put aside fantasies of forming the next government, the better for all of us. You might do so, but it won’t be on Justin’s coattails — it’ll be because you agree to proposals to unite the left in the same way that Harper once united the right. Yes, it’s just as likely that will get the NDP elected, which is why they should listen to Cullen and get with the program too. But the alternative for both of you, and for Canadians, is another Conservative government. And alas, we don’t have term limits on how long a Prime Minister may rule.