Sober thoughts on the Harper victory

Yesterday a little less than 4 in 10 Canadians got what they voted for.  As much as the the other 60% might want to complain about the seeming unfairness of the vote splits 40% is still a lot of votes.  The Liberals have won majorities with that much of the popular vote in the past. 

People involved in partisan politics can lose their perspective.  They get so worked up they exaggerate the weaknesses of their opponents and turn a blind eye to the failings of their own side.  I would say to those on the progressive side of the spectrum that Canada is still Canada.  The country is not going to fall apart.  I would say the same thing to Conservatives if Jack Layton became PM.  I don’t believe Harper has an evil secret agenda.  I’m pretty sure we’ll see things like the long gun registry and the wheat board go but these are not dramatic changes.  4 years isn’t enough time to erase the legacy of Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney and Chretien even if someone wanted too.  Politicians that get a taste of power like to keep it, and I’m very sure the Conservatives know that if they tack too far to the right they will lose at the end of their term.

What saddens me the most is how Canada has now become more polarized.  More than half of this country dislikes Harper strongly or moderately.  Harper carved out his majority by doing things that would energize a minority of Canadians for him and turn a majority of Canadians against him.  We have given permission for our politicians to engage in distasteful and dishonest tactics.  Voter turnout bumped up but it is still historically low.  Even with 60% of Canadians showing up at the polls more people failed to show up than voted for the winning party.

The future holds some serious challenges for our nation.  On that point I actually agree with Harper.  We have the financial instability south of the border and in Europe combined with soaring energy and food prices.  This next term is going to be something of a political poison pill.  I cannot predict the future but I believe the next 4 years are going to be very turbulent. 

If Harper doesn’t begin to transition us to a more responsible sustainable economy perhaps the provinces will.  In Saskatchewan the right of center government just announced a Carbon Capture and Storage retrofit for one of the nastier coal plants in the country.  It is a 1.2 billion dollar project that will burn coal and store CO2 in the ground.  It doesn’t rank high on sustainability but it is certainly more responsible. If Canada were to invest the equivalent federally it would be close to 40 billion dollars.   It really is a very big deal for my province.

We will see how things work out.  There will be no excuses about uncooperative parliaments this time.  It will be interesting to see if they really do hold to true Conservative principles. 

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