Friday, June 15, 2012

Putting the fun back in politics

It's been quite a while since Canadian politics were more interesting than those in the U.S., but they are now.

The Americans have two presidential candidates who, other than their skin colour, look a lot like each other.

The major accomplishment of the incumbent, a national healthcare system, was actually modeled on his adversary's implementation at the state level. Both are cool, expensively-tailored, technocrats with an air of detachment and a preference for reason over passion.

Sure they criticize each other viciously, but one suspects that both would govern in much the same, centrist, manner. Plus their hands are tied by the U.S. fiscal pickle that puts deficit reduction front and centre no matter who's in charge.

Now look at Canada.

The Tories expected they'd be duking it out with the NDP's new not-Jack guy, Tom Mulcair, and the Liberals' old baggage-laden warrior, Bob Rae. No worries there, mate. Just let the two pale pink guys squabble for the support of the left-leaners, and (Bob's-your-uncle-no-pun-intended) there's another four years at 24 Sussex safely in the bag. Let the Harper agenda roll!

But no-o-o-o.

Rae takes a hike, and now it's a whole new ball game.

Trudeau The Younger is now re-cogitating his previous rejection of a leadership run, as many desperate Liberals look to the old brand as their last hope.

Another election cycle and the party could disappear entirely unless the hemorrhaging is stopped now. Think Kim Campbell, 1993, when the Progressive Conservative party went poof. Like bankruptcy, it happens a little bit at a time, and then all at once.

Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star says Justin is mocked as an intellectual lightweight, "Yet as far as I can see, he seems no stupider than anyone else."

Hardly high praise, but not a knockout factor.

Speaking of which, Justin seems to have inherited his dad's flair for the dramatic, having brawled his way to a third-round TKO victory over Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau back in March.

My wife attended a community youth-oriented event where he spoke, and reported that he was "an amazing speaker, had charisma up the ying-yang, and really connected with the young audience." I should note that she is a lifelong Liberal and (Pierre) Trudeau admirer, so you can discount her testimony to the extent you think appropriate.

If he were to broadly engage young voters, who now stay away from the polls in droves and prefer vehicles other than party politics to effect change, that could be a game changer.

Personally, after a brief bout of Trudeaumania, I never was a fan of his dad, but I won't lay the disappointments of 40 years ago on the son.

So, whole new ball game. Stay tuned. It will be interesting.


  1. I'm only admitting this to you, Doug. I know that you won't tell a soul BUT I am thinking - just thinking, maybe toying with the idea, in the darkest recesses of my mind, of maybe thinking about voting ... Liberal. So this was a most interesting post. I'm not sure this is the right time for Trudeau the Younger (love that)but ... hmmm

  2. Your secret is safe with me, Francie. Good luck with your deliberations.