First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, it is true that the Liberal Party of Canada currently holds the fewest House of Commons seats in party history. Yes, some describe the party as being in a time of quasi-existential crisis as Liberals across the country are forced to ponder the burning questions of party identity and unity. Yes, we are currently without a permanent leader. What isn’t true, however, is that the Liberal party is done for good – extinct, archaic, abolished, extinguished.
Former Liberal Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, once remarked, “the essential ingredient of politics is timing”. Inarguably, the assent of the NDP to the status of Official Opposition – a position that was previously thought to be unattainable for the party — coupled with the Conservative Party winning a majority in May of 2011 makes today’s political climate less than ideal for the Liberals. These seismic changes to the Canadian political scene have left many feeling that a party that best represents their interests is no longer present.
How then, you may ask, is someone like myself still optimistic about the future of the Liberal Party? While the stability of the party itself may currently be in question, the ideals that the party embodies, and the principles for which it stands, are not. I am of the belief that Canada is, by nature, a Liberal country. One must only look to the liberal social values held by the majority of Canadians to see this.
What Canadians have seen from the Conservative Government as of late is far from representative of what Canada is and can be. The passage of crime bills that enforce anachronistic policies that put punishment before proper rehabilitation and that take power away from judges who have the best understanding of the case by implementing mandatory sentences is merely the tip of the iceberg. The current Harper Government is a government that doesn’t bat an eyelash when the Minister responsible for Status of Women votes in favor of a motion that would likely reopen the abortion debate. Harper’s is a government that puts Alberta oil above economic and environmental stability and withdraws from the Kyoto Accord. This is a government that, throughout its time as government, has flip-flopped on its policy regarding China, eventually putting trade before ethics and has compromised Canada’s position in the international community. This is exemplified by the fact that Canada, in 2010, was not successful in its bid to win a seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council — the first time this has happened. Not to mention the severely diminished role Canada plays within the larger UN — particularly in regards to peacekeeping which was first proposed by Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson during his time as Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs. How are any of these actions representative of what it means to be Canadian?
The NDP, on the other hand, though perhaps closer socially to the liberal nature of Canadians, lacks the fiscal responsibility this country needs. It cannot be ignored that the legislation and programs the party proposed in May of 2011, while admirable, far surpassed the price tag of the Liberals and Conservatives. To me, the NDP is all idealism and no pragmatism. While that might have worked for a third party, it cannot – and will not – work as a long-term strategy. The NDP have a choice to make; abandon party ideals or replace the Liberal Party.
I believe that the second option will be harder to accomplish than many think. The Liberal Party is rebuilding, and as it does so, it promises to retain the very principles that attracted me to it in the first place: balanced fiscal responsibility, social justice and government support. The party of universal healthcare, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, multiculturalism, the environment – that’s my party. And, I believe, once it reasserts itself, it will once again be the party of the majority of Canadians.
Blogger Bio Greta Hoaken is a high school senior, currently studying at The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. In addition to serving as the Youth Director of the Eglinton-Lawrence Federal Liberal Riding Association, she is an active participant in Model United Nations, a debater, and unashamed history nerd. This past summer, Greta worked at The Globe and Mail in Toronto and volunteered with the Obama campaign in North Carolina. Since first getting involved in politics as a Liberal at the age of fifteen, Greta has become increasingly more interested in Canadian politics, namely the rebuilding and redefining of the Liberal Party of Canada. She plans to pursue a career in Canadian politics and the Foreign Service.
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