I haven't had anything to say about the Canadian election yet, because not much exciting has happened. The Conservatives, my choice, have been sure and steady but are unfolding a very cautious program with many Liberal lite elements. The Liberals are slowly falling apart, as their lack of vision, and their sense of entitlement to power, is just reinforced the more they use their scare tactics: portraying the Tories as sinister, American-style Christer Republicans, something out of Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale.
In Monday night's tv debate, in an act of desperation, Prime Minister Paul Martin threw out an impromptu addition to the Liberal party's campaign platform, advocating the removal of the Notwithstanding Clause (NWC) in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This clause allows the federal and provincial legislatures to pass laws, notwithstanding the provisions of the Charter, for a period of five years (renewable). In other words, the NWC allows the legislatures to override any court decision that a piece of legislation is unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights. The NWC was added to the Charter by those who insisted on preserving the British convention that Parliament is the supreme authority in the land. The Charter has been favored by those who want to see the courts play a more activist role in protecting rights against the state. So now, at the end of the era in which all forms of legal discrimination against people by sex, race, ethnicity, religion, have been effectively removed, the Liberals would risk upsetting our balance of powers between legislature and courts in order to highlight their key campaign idea that "Stephen Harper and the Conservatives want to take away your rights". It's just like what the American Democrats say about George Bush, without actually being able to point to a right the big bad white guy has or would take away. Cynical bastards.
As for the third party, the NDP, perennially lost in the seventies, they have little to say but "We're not corrupt Liberals, so vote for us and we'll be sure to get you all the welfare state you want".
Well I love Canada for what it is, but politically groundbreaking it is not. Still, I am pleased to note the Conservatives are rising in the polls. And this may be a sign of the overall decline of wacky pc, centrist, elitist, liberalism in the west. For anyone wanting a feel for the campaign I recommend David Warren who captures my thoughts in this column.
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