From being a »friendly dictorship » in the early 2000’s to a quasi-moribond third party 12 years later, the Liberal Party of Canada future looks bleak as ever.
Why? Even if they are nothing else then simple anecdotes, these three (real life) cases of people in my entourage (only the names were changed) are a good sign of the fact that the Liberal Party of Canada is going nowhere.
-As seniors, Robert and Monique were »old wood » Liberal voters having voted for the Liberals for decades and decades. They were also part of one of the most solid part of the Liberal coalition which were French-Canadians outside Quebec.
However, after the Sponorship Scandal, they voted Conservative since 2006, living in a part of the country which is competitive for the three major parties.
-Mark is a 20-something voter. Always voted Liberal both provincially and federally and is living in a riding which is a Liberal forteress for decades.
However, he is not very keen of the Conservative gouvernment. He is not a socialist, but the NDP under Mulcair could be an option for him especially that the riding where he is living is becoming less and less Liberal with elections passing by.
-David is 35 and living in the West Island of Montreal. An owner of a small business, he consider himself middle of the road politically. He usually voted Liberal as he was a federalist but he finds that the Liberal party is going nowhere and he going further from his views.
He is not very keen to the NDP and his inclined to find other alternatives.
Even if these examples are anecdotes, this proves that the Liberal »big tent » approach is no more.
Basically, since the 1990’s, the Liberals had a four part coalition to be able to have enough votes to have a parliamentary majority.
-New Canadians. There is a pattern of the «Kenney effect» that some candidates were able to get a sizeable amount of voters who are New Canadians in all major cities.
-«Canada first» voters in Quebec. In the 1990’s and up to 2006, the Liberal Party of Canada had a sizeable base of voters in Quebec which voted Liberal as a vote »for » Canadian federalism. Of course, the 1984 and 1988 federal elections in Quebec were exceptions as the PC under Mulroney were able to form a coalition of both federalists and soft nationalists.
Even through the pattern is still visible provincially in Quebec among some in the Quebec Liberal Party base, the Liberal Party of Canada have lost almost all this base in Quebec as even anglophones in Quebec are voting Liberal, NDP and Conservative in an quasi-equal basis between the three parties.
-Blue Liberals (or John Manley Liberals). Generally Blue Liberals were pro-market liberals living in bigger cities who were also classical liberals socially. However, this doesn’t means that the LPC don’t have some members which are *more* social conservative then let say-Maxime Bernier or James Moore.
Except in a few pockets (such as Westmount or St. Paul’s in Toronto), many are not very interested by the Liberal Party since the party had lost their «John Manley» touch.
-Canadian nationalists/populists: Canadian nationalism had been a part of the main base of the Liberal Party of Canada since a few decades even through that the party curcus was more rhetorical is this area since 1993. In the 1988 election, this was a main focus group for the party.
Generally, even if this is difficult to quantify, I would not be suprised that a great number of Trudeauists have voted NDP in 2011 especially in some inner city ridings in Toronto was the Liberal swing to the NDP was very big.
So, what the Liberal party could do to stop their decline like seen in the last four (!) general elections?
First of all, the party should stop being a watered-down version of the NDP, by promoted a real liberal agenda.
The party should become the party of free trade and be in opposition to the nanny state by having a live-and-let-live social policy with the party as being the guardian of individual freedom and rights. Unfortunetely, previous liberal gouvernements were too cozy with this concept of the nanny state.
Also, the Liberal Party should have a common sense environmentalism platform. In other words, putting emphasis on more property rights, putting the real pricetag on things and less waste then making the mistake of going through eco-socialism.
This also includes the fact that the war on drugs should be ended just like there should be a reform on how justice takes on victimless crimes.
If the Liberals don’t do this, what do they will have any different than Mulcair’s NDP?
And honestly, for those thinking that the Liberals should merge as a sidekick to the NDP, name me ONE province where the Liberals and the NDP had merged togeter against the Tories?
The Liberals and the NDP also have two different party cultures, unlike the Reform/Canadian Alliance which was composed in majority of former Progressive Conservatives.
As a fact, usually, in Canadian politics, when the NDP becomes stronger, it’s the non-NDP who merges together in a single bloc.
I do not say that a NDP/Liberal merger will be impossible, but I do believe that with their current standing, the NDP is not really interested at all about this option.
And then, provincially, in a few cases, the Liberals have a very bitter relation with the NDP like the other way around.
So, the merger is far from being a fait accompli and even through I believe there it is not impossible that this could happens, mergers are usually the exception rather than the norm in Canadian politics especially since some Liberals will never accept playing second fiddle to the NDP.