Here we are in Part 4 of this 5 part series. Today we look at the party that governed our country for 13 years, but has since fallen down to the ranks of Official Opposition, hoping to rise once more.
The Liberal Party of Canada
Current Leader: Stephane Dion
Leader's Riding: Saint-Laurent -- Cartierville
Seats at Dissolution: 95
Major Issues: Carbon Taxes, Polarizing the Electon, Rebranding Stephane Dion
(DISCLAMER: Before I get started here, I would like to direct people's attention to one of the first posts I made back in 2006, after Stephane Dion won the Liberal Leadership. The reason I ask you to give that post a whirl, is because in it I express my high record for Stephane Dion and the Liberal party. I have tried in the first three posts to be as objective as possible, however that may be difficult given my emotional attachment here.)
It's been a rough year for Stephane. Since January, he has been the subject of countless attack ads by the Conservative Government. It seems that every few months they choose some new way to go after him, in actions that remind me of the worst kind of bullying you see in High School. I mean, seriously, if a teenager made something like notaleader.ca, they would be suspended from school, no questions asked. Funny how we hold our kids to higher standards than our politicians.
Sorry, there goes that bias thing I was warning you about, allow me to start over.
Dion, after being the subject to many attack ads, has seen the Liberal numbers drop in some very key ridings, inching the Conservatives closer and closer to a Majority Government. This has caused many to wonder about Dion's leadership credentials, and has lead to a great many talk about replacing him with a different candidate in the very near future.
The Liberal machine has gone into overdrive to rebrand Dion from all of the Conservative attack ads. First by launching a counter side ThisIsDion.ca, where they show pictures and videos of Stephane Dion playing floor hockey, and going fishing. A far cry from the babbling oaf talking about the difficulty of making priorities. Also, Dion has been appearing more often with some of his "Dream Team" such as Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, and Gerrard Kennedy, hoping that if people are fans of any of them, that they will throw their support behind Dion. Also, he has been highlighting the power of the Liberal Party as a whole, which contrasts a great deal to Harper's cabinet, made up of people who either get no or bad publicity.
In order to win this election, or lose it less, the Liberals need to do two more important things: Talk about the economy, and tap into Canadians mistrust of the Conservatives.
With clouds getting cast over the US economy, obviously fears are moving North of the Border. Dion has already started talking about the Liberals fiscal records during the Chretien and Martin years, but he needs to highlight this more and more. It was Brian Mulroney in power during the recession of the early 90s, and it was Chretien in power during the economic boom of the mid and late 90s.
People are concerned about rising taxes, fuel costs, and grocery bills. The thing is that Dion has an answer for these things, The Green Shift. This has to be one of the worst publicized great ideas ever. It will help save Canadians money, plain and simple. Yes, it raises energy costs, but it cuts taxes across the board, and encourages companies to look into greener technologies. Yes, it is confusing, but it will help people save money, plain and simple. What the Liberals need to do, is lay down exactly how much money a family of 4, with an income of say $70, 000 will save as a result of this plan, then people will start to understand.
Secondly, the Liberals need to realize that this is not the same political climate that it was for them in the 1990s. Then, there was the Reform (or Alliance) and the Progressive Conservatives, who dividing the Right Wing vote, and the Liberals were able to gather the centre vote with relative ease. Now, things are different, as the NDP and Greens have emerged as larger players, and the Bloc has moved farther Left. This squeezes the Liberals on both sides.
However, many Canadians have a certain mistrust of Harper and the Conservative Party. Dion needs to tell people time and time again, that the Liberals are the only party that is in any kind of position to dethrone the Conservatives. He needs to polarize this election, and he needs to do it fast. If the Liberals are going to have any kind of success, then this election needs to be about Liberals vs. Conservatives.
Harper can very clearly see this. This is why at one point he said that he was just as worried about Layton as he was Dion. He was trying to empower the NDP base, to take away votes from the Liberals.
When I first started this series, a short ten days ago, I was convinced that the Liberals would lose somewhere around 20 seats to the Conservative Juggernaut. However, since the campaign started, the Conservatives have been making mistake after mistake, from puffins, to jokes in poor taste, to misusing the RCMP. Couple this with Canadian fears about the economy, and I am not so certain. While I still think that there will be another Conservative Minority (like I said back in January), I think that the Liberals will have very little change, just like the NDPs.
In the earlier blog post that I referenced, I said proudly "I honestly and sincerely hope that this Conservative Minority comes to a close and we can vote Dion in as soon as possible. He may just end up being the best Prime Minister we have had in a long time."
And yes, several attack ads later, I still feel the same. Sadly, though I only have one vote, and I fear that will note be enough.
Until next time,
Part I - The Green Party of Canada - September 9, 2008
Part II - The NDP - September 15, 2008
Part III - The Bloc Quebecois - September 16, 2008
Part IV - The Liberal Party of Canada - September 19, 2008
Part V - The Conservative Party of Canada - September 21, 2008