Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mulroney Anniversary Reminds us of the Need for a National Party

It was 25 years ago that Brian Mulroney swept to victory with the greatest majority in Canadian history, winning over 50 seats in Quebec along the way. And while not being a Conservative and thus unable to feel some partisan pride, one can draw something from this event. Mulroney's sweep was truly national, representing constituencies from all over the country.

Joe Clark noted this at the anniversary, speaking with reporters. He said that it shows we need a government that unites Canadians instead of pitting them against each other.

It's certainly not going to come from the descendant of Clark's party, though. Stephen Harper has shown an innate ability to antagonize various regions of the country. It is no surprise as much of his politics is based on "the West getting in" This was a theme of his first election victory, when he toppled Paul Martin's government on the sponsorship scandal.

With a leader that plays this western card so well, who so clearly has a regional bias (who else sweeps a province) and is partisan in general, it's no wonder we have a more deeply divided country. And these characteristics are the reason we are in no sight of a majority government.

Neither does directing anger against Quebec for their coalition forming "separatists" provide any hope.

Although these events have effectively precluded a truly national government under Harper, Michael Ignatieff does not yet have this problem. In the next election campaign, Ignatieff needs to show that he cares about regions with traditionally lower Liberal support, such as BC. Or maybe Alberta.
Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers If you liked this post, please vote for my blog at Canadian Blogosphere Canadian Blogosphere


  1. Stephen Harper has more seats in Quebec than the Liberal Party has in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC combined. As much as we hate to admit it, we Liberals are at least as far away from being a "National" government as these tories

  2. The Liberal party has never been a national party. Even with the large victories under Chretien (whom I voted for) the Liberal party has always been the Ontario/Quebec party. The last election Chretien won with 172 seats, 80% of those were Ontario/Quebec seats. Contrast that with Mulroney's mega-win, and of his 211 seats, only 59% were from Ontario and Quebec. With Harper's last victory, where only 43% came from within Ontario and Quebec.

    The Liberal party will need more than urban ridings if they want to become a national party. How can you appeal to a country when you dismiss the concerns of rural voters as 'backwards'? The Tories have been making gains because they have been listening to voters and giving them what they want.

    For the Liberals to regain power they will need to do the same.

  3. A national parties runs candidates in all 308 ridings - the Liberals ARE a national party.

  4. I wouldn't consider the Conservatives at this point truly national. Neither are the Liberals. But I believe they have more potential because of the Tory regional politics, which is still based to some degree on Reform Party Western advocacy.

    Remember, Harper was a Reform MP at one point. And has ties with the Reform, not the PC


Progressive bloggers