16
Oct
08

The Liberal Party of Canada had a “Left” Territory?

According to CBC News, political consultant David Herle, who chaired the two previous Liberal campaigns, said:

We are now again, virtually irrelevant in Western Canada and have lost the beachhead we had in British Columbia. The problems in Quebec remain widespread and deep. The NDP and Greens are encroaching on the Liberal party’s territory from the left.

I never knew the Liberal Party thought of itself as having any “territory” on the “left;” in fact, I have never personally known anyone in Canada who would describe him/herself as being on the “left” and who would vote Liberal. It seems that the Liberals are bemoaning the loss of something they never had. It seems clearer that some of its past supporters have departed both toward the right and the left, to other parties, hence my comment that the centre can no longer hold. The Liberal Party is obviously having trouble inventing a new identity for itself, especially when fewer voters decided to “vote strategically” by choosing it over the Conservative Party. A repository for strategic votes is not an identity; it is an identity defined as an absence, “not Conservative.” “Not Conservative” is simply not good enough.

What is also not good enough is the late-in-the-day attempt by Liberal leader Dion to assert that the Liberals are the party of social justice and environmentalism. Where I reside, Liberal Party posters attempted to define the party as one of “peace” and “against the war in Afghanistan.”

Since I credit Afghanistan with moving me to vote, I could hardly fail to notice the irony — the mendacity — of this new Liberal assertion:

  • The Liberals began Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan, allegedly beating conservative Australia in being the first country to offer troops to support the U.S. The Liberals have not since explained why they are now against the war they started.
  • Among the Liberals’ top tier is Michael Ignatieff, one of the world’s better known “new imperialists” — have the Liberals repudiated imperialism? If so, when did it happen, and why?
  • The Liberals were the ones to first abide by the abusive detention in Guantanamo of someone who at the very worst could be labeled a “child soldier,” and here I refer to Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who never had the aid of his government, to which all citizens are entitled. When and why did the Liberals ever decide they were now concerned about Khadr?
  • The Liberal government in 2002 collaborated with and supported the U.S. in sending Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, to be tortured in Syria

Invasion, secret detention, torture, and the new imperialism — and the Liberals want to claim they had “territory” on the left that others are “encroaching” upon. They are going to need to learn some modesty, and how to be honest with themselves, before they can continue their journey to a new identity.

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