Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Developments in Canada
Canada's Christmas Campaign
On Monday, Canada’s opposition parties made good on their recent threats and defeated the Liberal government of Paul Martin, triggering an election for January 26, 2006.
Now, as Canadians head to the polls for the second time in 18 months, the question is whether voters will return the Liberals to office—as they have in every election since 1993 and for 70 of the past 100 years—or whether they’ll choose change.
Lumbering in the background is a scandal in which millions of tax dollars intended to promote national unity in the province of Quebec were instead funneled back to Liberal Party coffers.
The Conservative Party, whose leader Stephen Harper has already likened the Liberal government to an organized-crime family, is betting on the public’s mood for change. But voters are still wary of the Conservatives, whose policies many see as too far right of the mainstream.
The Liberals hope voters will forget the scandal and focus instead on Paul Martin’s reputation for sound fiscal management. But that reputation took a beating during his high-spending 17-month tenure in the top job, including some $7 billion in promises in the last few weeks alone.
In Quebec, the separatist Bloc Quebecois will clean up, depriving any party of a majority in the House of Commons, while the quasi-socialist New Democrats hope to pick up a few seats by insisting that Canada remain the only country other than Cuba and North Korea to ban the purchase of private health insurance.
Predictions? The status quo will prevail and the Liberals will return to office with another minority government. That outcome, however, will do little to mend the deep and growing fissures in Canadian society.
Dan is also going to be writing on the U.S.-Canada relationship for the forthcoming issue of TNI.