Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some Reflections on the '08 Election

So the Conservatives have won another minority government. This outcome was expected. Many might wonder what the point of having this election was. What is really worth the $300 million it cost Canadians? I actually believe it was. And here I will offer some thoughts on what I think this election outcome really tells us.

As I noted before, yesterday was the first time in my life that I did not vote for the Liberal Party. Sadly the Liberals fulfilled the fate I predicted back when St├ęphane Dion was elected leader in 2006. Dion's defeat is actually good for Canada and it says something encouraging about the health of democracy in Canada.

Why do I (one who usually supports the Liberals) say this? Because Dion had sought the highest political office on a ill-conceived populist appeal to an issue that is not even a domestic issue. Furthermore, in doing so he proposed compromising the basic tenets of redistributive justice and demonstrated the policy naivety typical of an academic (e.g. that the Green Shift would also tackle poverty in Canada). So I am actually relieved the Liberals were handed this defeat.

The Liberal defeat (coupled with the Green Party's failure) tells us that you cannot base a country's domestic policy on a global issue that we cannot, no matter how much we would like to, control. Contrary to what environmentalists would have us believe, Canada cannot control the global temperature of the world. And so Dion's claim that "it is the right thing to do" is empty. Hence the flat support he received last night. Our political parties should focus on those things the Canadian government can actually influence- like our economy, health care, education, etc. That is the loudest message coming out of last night's election results. And if we actually listen to that message, then perhaps it was worth $300 million.

Let's hope the Liberals can re-group and get their priorities straight. And they must also act (more) responsibly when the time comes, as I believe it must, to choose a new political leader. Liberals can no longer arrogantly assume that they will be the governing party no matter who they choose to lead and no matter what the substance of their platform. And so I believe that last night's result conveyed an important message, one that reflects well on that state of democracy in Canada.