The great ‘Lib-Dem’ divide

Garden15

Political polls, timely and alluring, always, somehow, manage to say it all even as they point so clearly to our splendid isolation.

Where once the young Justin Trudeau seemed destined to reconstitute his father’s party – shoving Thomas Mulcair into a neo-Liberal corner not even Jack Layton’s ghost would haunt, and relegating the reformer Stephen Harper to a chapter of history where John Diefenbaker takes tea with Ward Cleaver – the telegenic politico is suddenly falling flat on his lovely, red face.

Naturally, the sharks are now circling the inland waterways that surround Parliament Hill, smelling political chum at its very best.

According to an EKOS Politics public opinion survey, released not long ago, “For five of our last six polls, the NDP has improved its standing with Canadian voters and the party now stands at 33.6 per cent, a 16-point improvement over its modern low just four months ago.”

Indeed, “The NDP have nearly double the support that they did this time out from the 2011 election. Support for the Conservatives and the Liberals, meanwhile, continues to languish with the two parties standing at 27 points and 23 points, respectively.

This suggests that had the brass, responsible for the fortunes of Canada’s two opposition parties, managed to pull their noses out of their respective navels four years ago they might now be looking at a “Liberal-Democrat” hegemony come October.

As things stand, they can expect another Tory win right up the middle of the Main Street they have managed to pave and split on their own dime.

Of course, none of this prevents either Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Mulcair from pretending to disagree about issues on which they obviously concur. Perversely, electoral politics in this nation encourage it.

Still, both leaders want Canada to cradle a degree of social justice it hasn’t enjoyed in more than a decade. Both want a demonstrably democratic, proportional system of representation in Ottawa. Both want to see a Senate, corrupted by its own rules, either radically reformed or abolished. Both endorse a system of long-term, early childhood education, supported and subsidized by the federal state as a means to a proper end for mums, dads, teachers and, most importantly, kids.

As the Grit and NDP policy platforms are so evidently compliant with one another – in fact, nearly identical in every important way – does their fiction of friction make any sense at all?

If recent opinion polls show one thing, they show this: Canadians are not evenly split between the right and the left; they are confused and confounded by their traditional loyalties to political parties that no longer represent their values, interests, secular beliefs, and actual circumstances.

Can we be fiscal conservatives and still recognize the importance of public investment in municipal and community infrastructure?

Can we be social progressives and still acknowledge the need to live within our economic means?

How do we balance ourselves on this thin beam that traverses between the gravity of our reality and the flight of our fondest fantasies?

Inevitably, we meet ourselves in the middle – at work, at home, in politics, and in life. If we are true to ourselves, we demand the same of those whom we send into public office.

Messrs. Trudeau and Mulcair are clearly missing the point in this election cycle. Together, they own 57 per cent of the popular vote; alone they fail.

The polls say it all: We, all of us, are stronger, smarter and kinder standing together than when we perch at the periphery of our society in splendid isolation.

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