How to Avoid Harperphobia

Monday, May 10, 2004


Written by Kyle Lambert

Over the last twelve years, a federal election in Canada has become about as predictable as the finale of an overrated television sitcom. The Liberal Party of Canada, under the little guy from Shawinigan, was able to defeat it opponents in the last three elections by essentially scaring the crap out of most Canadians. They demonized the Reform/Canadian Alliance Party by touting them as gun-wielding, oil-guzzling, fundamentalist Christian zealots from Alberta - an unfair if not entirely untrue portrayal. Those who would support the NDP or PC parties were simply reminded of Bob Rae and Brian Mulroney. The evils of the Bloq Quebecois went without saying, or for that matter, any remote understanding of the Quebec nationalist cause on the part of those outside of the province.

This coming election promises to be no different. Don’t let Paul Martin and the “new look Liberal Party” fool you, they will attempt the same politics of polarization and fear that allowed them three consecutive majorities in ten years. I’m not going to debate whether Canadians should fear the politics of Stephen Harper, on that count I agree fully with the Liberal sound-bites. However, I am sick and tired of their election strategy. Reality is that the Liberals have failed to deliver on most of their big and little promises since the beginning of the Chretien era. So, now that Canadians are starting to realize this, they will not talk about their own goals for the country - instead, the Liberals will attack those parties which actually have real visions for the country. A full-out attack on Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party will really be an attempt to draw support from the Left, much like what happened in the most recent Ontario provincial election. In that case, Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals won by convincing Ontarians that they must vote Liberal to avoid another Conservative government - it worked like a charm and Paul Martin will try the same strategy.

The task is now up to Left supporters to not allow their minds to be made up by Liberal fear-mongering. I said before and I’ll say again, we do have reason to fear a Conservative government. However, that fear should not deter us from voting for the party which best suits our vision of the government of Canada. The NDP currently sits at 20% in the polls, enough to make a serious election impact if votes are not drawn to the Liberals out of Harperphobia. It appears that great gains can be made in Toronto, Hamilton and British Columbia. Vote-splitting may even help the NDP this time if Left supporters stick to their guns and the Conservative vs. Conservative-lite battle between the CPC and Grits can divide a few ridings.

There are a number of reasons for the Left in Canada to be optimistic about this upcoming election. Let's just hope that the optimism isn’t turned into the Harperphobia that Paul Martin hopes so hard to create.

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