Liberals and bell curves

Remember, a few years ago, when we all read about “The secret plot to destroy the Liberals“? Except it wasn’t all that secret; the conventional wisdom was that Stephen Harper wanted something akin to the UK or US two party system wherein a solidly left win g NDP would compete, head to head, with a solidly (albeit socially moderate) Conservative Party of Canada. Some people, especially me, didn’t like the idea ~ I thought, the, and still think, now, that periodic and often extended bouts of Labour government in the UK, for example, do more harm than good. My preference is for a multi-party system in . which the Conservatives and Liberals dominate while the NDP, some Quebec nationalists and others, like today’s Greens, and even minor parties like the Libertarians, provide “outlets” for those who need more than the “mushy middle … it’s that bell curve thing, again, for me. I believe, quite firmly, that about 70% of us occupy the moderate, political “middle” and that very nearly ALL of that 70% are always available to the CPC and LPC. I think that we ought to be able to have mostly alternating Conservative and Liberal majority governments, often punctuated with minorities.

John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, revives the idea in an Ontario context as he outlines the dilemmas facing the Ontario Liberals, especially if there is either an Conservative or NDP minority government. It is a revival of the old ‘dream’ nightmare of a two party system which almost guarantees that the moderate middle will be neglected while the extremes vie for power in each of a left and right leaning main party.

The demise of the ever vacillating Liberal Party is much desired by some people … not by me. I thoroughly detest the Trudeau Liberals: they are a dreadful example of politics without a single shred of principle. But the Liberals, at their worst, are no worse than the NDP at their best. Not even the Conservatives can be expected to govern for too long before they run out of political and policy steam and actually need some time on the opposition benches to renew themselves. We always need to have a competent “government in waiting” and in a multi-party system it should be the ‘other’ centrist party.

That bell curve matters … we are, broadly and generally, a moderate people who, too often, fall prey to the economically silly siren song of the political left. We need, I think, a multi-party system to give the left and right wings an electoral voice while, for all practical purposes, political power remains in the hands of the two centrist parties. I do not think we, Canadians, see much to emulate in either the UK’s Conservative/Labour or the USA’s Democrat/Republican twi party systems.

 

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