Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Let's Unite the Centre

(This has been reposted; it was deleted along with all the comments for some reason. Sorry to those who commented.)

There's been talk lately of David Orchard mulling a run for the Liberal leadership. Now, my opinion of Orchard is less than stellar (I'll be honest, I think he's incredibly naive, especially for actually believing that Peter MacKay would honour either of his infamous convention floor "committments") but I'd welcome him to the race. Any other former PCs wanna take a stab at this?

Because quite frankly, with the elimination of the Progressive Conservatives, Canada's political landscape has shifted yet again. In the past, we always had a part of the far left (NDP), a party of the far right (Social Credit), a party of the centre-left (Liberal) and a party of the centre-right (PC). The far-righters in Social Credit eventually were replaced by the Reform Party and then the Alliance, but it was the same principle.

With the assimilation of the Progressive Conservative Party into the Alliance (resistance was futile), the Conservative Party now occupies the "right" (both far and centre) and the NDP have been moving to occupy the "left" (both far and centre). The Liberals can respond to this, I feel, in three ways.

The first is to try to squeeze out the NDP on the left - but we tried that in the last campaign, and look what happened. The left was split, and the Tories won by picking up crucial parts of the centre. An alternate version of this idea is to unite the left, but that would just succeed in alienating even more of the centre.

The second is to adopt a policy of radical centrism, taking up the centre on every issue, with the Tories on the right and the NDP on the left. The Liberal Party in the United Kingdom tried this approach - they are now the third party in the House of Commons, behind Labour and Tory.

Finally, there is a third option - adopt a position spreading out broadly from the centre-left to the centre-right, and fight both of the other parties, adopting the best ideas of the "right" and the "left" and merging them into the centre. I think this is the way to go, which is why it is good to have Gerard Kennedy, Bob Rae, Scott Brison, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Michael Ignatieff, and Stephane Dion all in the same race. Some could be described as more "right" or more "left" than others, but what they all have in common (beyond party affiliation) is this - they are all centrists. They all reject the radical left of the NDP and the radical right of the Conservatives.

Since the PCs no longer exist, the centre-right is up for grabs. The PC Party's power-hungry institution may have submitted themselves to Alliance rule, but I firmly believe that PC voters (1993-2003) are still up for grabs. I think Scott Brison and David Orchard would very nicely represent that constituency in the leadership race, and show former PC voters that there is a place for them in the Liberal Party. It's funny, Liberals and PCs fought for so long that many may not be able to accept just how much they had in common all along. They both fought for the centre.

Forget uniting the left, let's unite the centre, and take on the real enemy - extremism. Let's build a country based on individual rights, egalitarianism, environmental responsibility, equality, respect, diversity, and social freedom. I believe these are centrist values, and I support a candidate for leader who I believe best reflects these values.

2 Comments:

At 4/25/2006 3:06 PM, Blogger Dylan said...

Unite the Center - I like that.

Right now the PC vote is allusive and hard to grab by any party. Quite frankly, many traditional PC voters have simply not voted in the last two elections because 1. they can't stand the Liberals (as many trad. progressive conservatives do) 2. the CPC is too right winged. Voting for the Bloc (in quebec) and the NDP are not options because neither will ever make up the government.

Between the 2000 and 2004 election, 800,000 PC votes were off the CPC radar. The Liberals picked up a minority government and the Green party did better than ever. Coincidence? I think not. Many Orchardites have moved onto the Green and NDP parties. I don't think his running in the Liberal party will bring them back - many Red Tories remember his ridiculous deal and his pathetic attempt to fight for progressive-conservativism in the courts afterwards, which just turned into a specticle over the money the new CPC owed him.

Then there is the Progressive Canadian party. Don't discredit us! We're small in size but many former members have connections through friends in the new party AND through Joe Hueglin's Daily Digest. I'm not going to make any wild prediction that the PC party will make a political comeback next election, but I do think with a little time, and the blundering within the CPC and LPC, our membership will grow. Afterall, our membership spiked 35% after the last CPC convention. There's no telling how the LPC leadership will effect us.

The PC vote is crucial for any party, now-a-days to win a majority. And, like most Red Tories (the ones who still call themselves progressive-conservatives, Blue tories have dropped the "progressive" with ease) they are searching for a party to call home. I think if the LPC does not produce a leader with a strong environmental vision, a peace-keeping role for the military, and market-friendly economic goals - the PC vote will continue to live in limbo, and, as I said before, the Green party will continue to serge.

 
At 4/25/2006 8:44 PM, Blogger Toronto Tory said...

I was a PC voter.

David Orchard does not speak for any of us. Many (most) of his insta-member supporters in his past leadership bids didn't even vote PC - they were NDP voters, for the most part.

As for Scott Brison - he is right wing, I'll give you that (although I wonder how many Liberals realize how right wing) - but for many of us, our clearest memories of him involve being betrayed. He lied to me.

Reaching out, genuinely, is a smart move, but you won't do it successfully to former PC voters with guys like Orchard and Brison.

 

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