The Liberals and NDP are taking an unnecessary shift toward the center
It’s no secret that true liberalism has been in decline for decades. Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK, kick started a conservative movement in the 80’s the effects of which are still being felt today. Since the dawn of this new conservative age, we have seen policies catered toward corporate interests with free trade, lower taxes, less market regulation and hostility towards organized labour.
These policies advocated by Reagan and Thatcher who have been removed from power for more than 25 years, have led to the highest levels of financial inequality since the Great Depression. In this time, the ideology of progressives and/or liberals have shifted greatly toward the center, possibly in an attempt to accommodate a little of both sides. American and British liberals, once champions of labour and the middle class have failed to protect what they once held dear.
In Canada, while the US and UK was in the midst of conservative change, we were being led by a member of the Progressive Conservative Party named Brian Mulroney. Mulroney was not the hardcore right-winger compared to his American and British counterparts, he led from the center. He believed in free trade and reduced government spending, but he also had an environmental conscious and introduced the GST.
For increasingly conservative Western Canadians, Mulroney was simply too progressive and as a result the early nineties saw the beginning of the end of “progressive conservative” as both an ideology and a political party. Now in the midst of a 10 year rule of Stephen Harper and his right-wing Conservative Party, the liberal parties of Canada are moving in the same direction as the Democrats and Labour Party did twenty years ago.
Three years after losing office to Stephen Harper, the Liberal Party chose a centrist leader in Michael Ignatieff to take on Harper in 2011. Ignatieff was an Iraq war supporter, a free trade advocate and has argued in defense of indefinite detention and certain forms of torture. He was not a “Liberal” by even today’s substandard definition.
Even though the conservatives received only 37% support in the 2008 election, the Liberal Party named Ignatieff its leader with no opposition or a leadership race. The hope was that Ignatieff would attract enough moderate conservatives to win them the next election. In the end the strategy backfired and Ignatieff led the Liberals to their worst defeat in Canadian history.
It has been close to two years since losing official opposition status and it appears the Liberal Party has learnt nothing. The Liberals are now in the middle of a leadership race with Justin Trudeau leading the pack. So far, the only known policy of Trudeau is that he doesn’t support a return of the gun registry as he is afraid to take a stand on the divisive issue (He’s seemingly frightened to take a stand on everything else as well).
The runner up to Trudeau is currently Marc Garneau. The former astronaut, unlike his colleague is not afraid to show where he stands. So far he has called for cuts in certain corporate taxes (that have already been cut in half by Harper), he has called for the elimination of the capital gains tax (picture Mitt Romney living tax free) and he is probably the biggest advocate of free trade his Party has ever had. Somehow, he calls himself a liberal.
The New Democratic Party of Canada, whose brand shot up thanks to a combination of the late Jack Layton’s leadership and the Liberal’s move toward the center of the political spectrum are now going down the same road. Canada’s so called “socialist party” under the direction of its new leader Thomas Mulcair has gone from the party of the people to the party of the corporation.
The NDP used to be Canada’s staunchest opponent of free trade, war and the unfettered free market (actual liberal views). So far, the NDP under Mulcair has given their support to NAFTA and has taken a vigorously pro-trade position with new free trade deals.
The NDP have supported military action in Mali and have been silent on Canada’s involvement in the war on drugs in Central America. Mulcair has also been completely idle throughout the Idle No More movement and has been silent on some environmental issues. This is not the party I voted for less than two years ago.
So why is this happening? Canada has been a progressive nation since confederation. Even today the polls hold this to be true. It is the reason why the progressive-less conservatives have never reached 40% percent support. It is the reason why the Liberal Party has dominated Canadian politics for more than a hundred and forty years.
The simple reason why our progressive parties are moving toward the center is that we’re allowing them to; Canadians who have forgotten our past, forgotten our values or simply don’t realize what is happening in our country are not voicing their discontent enough. Decriminalizing Marijuana, gay marriage and socialized medicine are still great causes to support or protect, but it doesn’t end there, liberals used to protect us from corporate interests and war, not the reverse.
Our social/liberal values have made Canada one of the best countries on earth in which to live and our progressive political parties are turning their backs on important issues. I have nothing against the Green Party, but it’s a sad time in Canadian history when real liberals have to rely on them to speak for the rest of us.