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Election drumbeats and flag waves

24 Jan

This past weekend, inside an Ottawa convention centre, the Prime Minister of Canada stood in front of the biggest Canadian flag this side of Canada Day, at a podium bearing a placard with a single word in large white letters:


To a crowd of hundreds of supporters waving smaller Canadian flags, there to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his government’s first election victory, Stephen Harper spoke of the people “who are the foundations of Canada”:

“The truck driver. The bank teller. The pensioner. The salesperson. The farmer, the fisherman. The entrepreneur, the autoworker. The tradesperson and the soldier… Whoever has the honor to lead them must care about them and must love Canada as much as they do.”

No mention of Canada-loving college professors or patriotic performance artists. But never mind…

The same weekend as Harper was giving his anniversary speech, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was wrapping up an 11-day tour of 20 ridings across Canada that his party thinks it can win from other parties.

“Canadians are entitled to ask, ‘are you better off than you were five years ago,’ “ Ignatieff said at the outset of his tour. “Is the economy stronger and is Canada more respected in the world? And I think the answers to all of those questions is no.”

NDP leader Jack Layton was on a cross-country tour of his own.

“If an election comes, New Democrats will be ready to go,” Layton said in Vancouver. “But until then, we’re asking Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff to work with us to get some results for Canadians right now.”

To underline the election-readiness half of that double-barreled message, the NDP offered reporters a “sneak peak at their new cutting-edge election headquarters” in Ottawa. A few days earlier, a reporter obtained and published an internal NDP memo declaring the party “prepared to wage an aggressive federal election campaign at any time”.

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Liberal parties released campaign-style attack ads.

The two Liberal ads were both aimed at the Prime Minister, painting him as more interested in fighter jets and corporate tax cuts than in the concerns of ordinary Canadians, and asking “Is this your Canada? Or Harper’s?”

The Conservatives had several different ads attacking each of the other major party leaders, although Ignatieff was targeted more than others.

“Ignatieff. He didn’t come back for you,” declared the Conservative ads, which described the Leader of the Official Opposition as a tax-and-spend liberal with a dubious commitment to his home country, similar to earlier attack ads that claimed Ignatieff was “just visiting” Canada after many years abroad.

So… are you ready for an election campaign? Or maybe you kinda feel we’re already into one.

Or maybe you’d rather not even think about it even a little bit. If that’s the case, you’re probably in the majority.

And maybe you won’t really have to think about it at all. Because it all could be a bluff.

In a minority Parliament, parties are always in election mode, ready to hit the campaign trail at any moment. And we’ve now had minority Parliaments in this country for more than 6.5 straight years. That’s a Canadian record, if you’re keeping score.

Over that time we’ve had a number of near-elections. Remember Belinda Stronach crossing the floor to help save Paul Martin’s minority government? Remember Stéphane Dion repeating over and over again how he had the power to pull the plug on Harper’s government… until finally Harper decided to pull it himself? Remember when Ignatieff announced, “Mr. Harper, your time is up?”

Ignatieff’s announcement came more than 17 months ago. No, there hasn’t been an election since then.

If there is an election this year, it likely will be triggered by a defeat of the federal budget sometime before the end of March. Any later than that and a federal election will come up against a number of already scheduled provincial elections, including Ontario’s.

Of course, all it will take to avoid an election will be a single opposition party deciding it is in its interest to prop up the government for another while longer.

But if this latest not-quite-an-election period is any indication, we already have a sense of how the next real campaign will unfold:

It will get personal. There will be flag waving. And if poll numbers (which have remained relatively consistent in the five years since Harper’s first election victory) don’t move much during the campaign, then we’re looking at many more record months of minority Parliament.


Questioning Question Period

27 Sep

Shortly before Members of Parliament gathered up their briefcases and returned to work late last month after an extended summer vacation, they were greeted with a sobering performance review from their employers.

That’s us, of course: The Canadian People.

Five days before Parliament opened, a non-partisan think-tank called the Public Policy Forum released poll findings showing that Canadians think their MPs stink.

I’m paraphrasing a bit here. Poll respondents didn’t quite say that MPs stink.  But a majority of them felt federal politicians are falling far short in the performance of one of the most prominent part of their jobs:

Question Period.

Question Period, of course, is only a very small part of what MPs do. It’s a 45-minute-long exercise that takes place on days the House of Commons is sitting. The rest of those days are devoted to less publicized, more sober, and often productive activities such as legislative debates and committee meetings.

But Question Period is what many Canadians think about when they think about what MPs do on Parliament Hill. It’s the House of Commons activity that gets shown most frequently on the nightly news because it’s the time when the political story of the day plays out most dramatically and most publicly.

And the more they think about Question Period, the more Canadians think that it stinks.

Two-thirds of the respondents to the Public Policy Forum’s poll agreed that “Question Period is just a forum for politicians to grandstand for the media and try to score cheap, short-term political points”.

The poll also found a majority (56 per cent) of Canadians “think less of our system of government when (they) see scenes from Question Period”, and that two-thirds believe “Question Period needs to be reformed and improved”.

Ironically enough, Question Period itself was introduced many decades ago as a reform and improvement of Parliament, said Public Policy Forum President David Mitchell. It was created to give the opportunity for regular backbench members of Parliament to ask pertinent questions of cabinet ministers.

According to Mitchell, the decline of Question Period began when cameras were introduced in the House of Commons in the late 1970s, and MPs started to use a time intended for serious questions to instead… well… “grandstand for the media and try to score cheap, short-term political points.”

Nowadays, it has become more of a forum for red-faced, finger-pointing, name-calling theatrics than a chance for elected representatives to get civilized answers from the government about the pressing issues of the day.

Teachers are embarrassed to bring their students on field trips to Parliament to witness behavior that would net their students detentions or suspensions if emulated back in class.

It’s important to note that some observers say the source of the problem is not cameras in the House, but rather too FEW cameras there, and that a lot of the heckling and bad behavior that turns off Canadians might be reduced if its perpetrators could be better identified and publicly shamed.

Clearly, the problem is compounded by the fact that we have been in a minority parliament situation in Canada for more than six years and counting. To some extent, the growing nastiness of Question Period reflects the general nastiness of federal politics in an extended period of uncertainty and heightened partisanship.

In concert with its poll release, the Public Policy Forum held a one-day conference to discuss ideas for reforming Question Period. Conference participants included MPs from different parties, perhaps recognizing that the status quo is becoming increasingly unpalatable to Canadians, and is hurting all of their reputations.

They came up with a list of ten very practical recommendations, including giving the Speaker of the House more authority, and allocating more time for MPs to ask more substantive questions and receive more substantive answers.

The recommendations jibed with those of Conservative MP Michael Chong, whose private member’s motion to reform Question Period may soon come to a vote.

But hopes for an immediate change in the tone of federal politics and an increase in goodwill and civility in Parliament were quickly dashed when MPs finally did come back to work.

The finger-pointing and name-calling began again right where they left off last spring, and spilled out beyond the confines of the House of Commons into a heavily partisan speech by the Finance Minister to an audience expecting sober economic analysis.

If politicians do not find the will to change that tone, they’ll continue to debase their profession and alienate their employers.

That’s us.

Government by Trial Balloon

22 Mar

One of the first times anyone ever launched a trial balloon, things didn’t go perfectly well.

It was back in 1783. The famed Montgolfier brothers, inventors of the hot-air balloon (which is still called a “montgolfière” in French), had been experimenting with levitating air-filled silk balloons in their hometown of Annonay, in southern France.

Word of their experiments soon reached the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, and one of the brothers was summoned north to report on their discoveries.

But before Etienne Montgolfier was able to do so, a rival inventor named Jacques Charles launched his own trial balloon – this one hydrogen-filled – into the Paris sky.

By some accounts, the launch itself was a success. Hundreds of awestruck onlookers watched the balloon rise heavenward.

But a storm soon blew in and carried it miles away into the countryside. Charles’ balloon landed in a small village, where peasants mistook it for an evil demon attacking from the sky, panicked, and destroyed it with pitchforks and knives.

That’s the way it goes sometimes with trial balloons.

Flash forward some 227 years to the present day. Now, the trial balloons that get launched are metaphorical ones. Politicians float unmanned ideas into the public realm, hoping the rest of us will keep our pitchforks and knives away, and instead gaze awestruck and heavenward at their proposed policies.

But as in 1783 France, things don’t always go perfectly well.

Look at some of the trial balloons our own federal government has floated in recent weeks.

Last month, on the very day that Parliament came back after a lengthy prorogation, in an otherwise unmemorable Speech from the Throne, the government announced plans to “ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem.”

The government was apparently proposing that a single line of “O Canada” – “… in all thy sons command…” – be changed back to its original lyric of more than a century ago: “… thou dost in us command…”

The proposal caught the country by surprise. Canadians had just spent two weeks happily singing the national anthem over and over again during the Winter Olympic Games.

It didn’t take too long for the pitchforks to come out. The backlash from citizens was so quick and so virulent that a mere two days after the Speech from the Throne was read, the Prime Minister’s press secretary came out with the following statement:

“The government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem. We have offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear. They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue.”

Not pretty. But that’s the way it goes sometimes with trial balloons.

Then a few weeks later, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon seemed to float a trial balloon of his own. He announced that the government’s plan for aid targeted to women and children in developing countries – the “signature” initiative of this year’s coming G-8 and G-20 meetings hosted by Canada – would not include contraception.

“It does not deal in any way, shape or form with family planning. Indeed, the purpose of this is to be able to save lives,” Cannon told a Parliamentary committee.

Opposition politicians, media commentators and health experts quickly pounced on the minister’s comments, pointing out that family planning is central to maternal and child health in the world’s poorest countries. Critics accused the government of taking a page from the policies of former U.S. President George W. Bush, and putting socially conservative ideology before science and health.

Whether the minister was floating a trial balloon or simply misspeaking, it only took two days — again, two days — for the government to announce that they weren’t excluding contraception from their plan after all.

“We are not closing doors against any options, including contraception,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in the House of Commons.

Another balloon… popped.

And those are simply two of a number of possible examples of a trend that seemed to define the first few weeks back at work for a government that had prorogued Parliament in order to “recalibrate” its agenda. Other burst trial balloons included public statements on government-funded Internet access and on political flyers that MPs send out at taxpayers’ expense.

If the government indeed recalibrated its agenda, it’s hard to understand why there are still so many trial balloons floating around.

And if you’re going to float those balloons, it’s probably a good idea to check for pitchforks ahead of time.

The Olympic Prorogation

27 Feb

My family and I spent much time this month sitting on the couch together, watching hours of televised sports we’d normally never care about for even a minute.

More to the point: We spent hours becoming emotionally invested in the successes and failures of Canadian athletes we’d never heard of before, whose sports we’d normally never care about for even a minute.

Ice dancers.

Freestyle moguls skiers.

Skeleton… ers.

To name a few.

Maybe your family did the same thing as mine. The Winter Olympics were a terrific diversion, weren’t they?

Whether Canadians were owning the podium or bemoaning the odium, the fact that the Games were here on home ice made them even more captivating.

Never mind that this particular home ice was in Vancouver – 4,500 kilometres away from Ottawa – a lot farther away than, say, Lake Placid or Salt Lake City. The ice was very… homey.

Now if your family really is anything like mine, no doubt you turned to each other between the medal events and the fast food commercials, and one of you thoughtfully said:

“Thank goodness the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament! If not, we wouldn’t have been able to sit here together for hours becoming emotionally invested in the successes and failures of these athletes. Instead, all our emotions would have been invested in Question Period and in the successes and failures of our members of parliament. There simply wouldn’t have been any emotions left for curling, bobsleigh, and ski jumping.”

“Sure glad THAT didn’t happen!”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. But your family surely turned to each other and said something like that.

Didn’t you?

Surely you cheered on our short-track speed skaters with gusto as they zipped around the track. Could you possibly have done so with the same amount of gusto if you also had to cheer on your favorite private member’s bill as it worked its way through the parliamentary process?

There’s only so much gusto to go around, right?

Well… look. What can I tell you? We all remember that Prime Minister Harper prorogued Parliament at the end of December. Before he did so, MPs were scheduled to come back to work on January 25th. Instead, they’ve only come back in recent days.

Critics said the government was subverting democracy in an attempt to avoid facing uncomfortable issues such as Afghanistan detainee abuse allegations and its record on climate change.

The Prime Minister said his government simply needed time to “recalibrate” its agenda. He and his supporters also responded to early criticism by playing that Olympic card. Canadians, they said, did not want to be distracted from the festivities in Vancouver.

The government seemed quite certain that the absence of Parliament wouldn’t bother us too much, as long as we had snowboarders and hockey players to cheer on.

But it didn’t take long for evidence of a backlash to emerge. Last autumn, public opinion polls showed the Conservatives flirting with majority territory. Within a few weeks of Parliament’s shutdown, the governing party was back in a neck-and-neck race with the opposition Liberals.

When an earthquake leveled Haiti, our government responded quickly and usefully. But it had no effect on the prorogation-impacted polls.

Anti-prorogation protests that attracted hundreds of thousands of Canadians online translated into substantial live protests in communities across the country.

In response, the Prime Minister seemed to lose some of his bravado. In the face of widespread protests and plunging polls, he announced that after Parliament returned in March, it would sit without a single break until summer. This was a tacit admission of prorogation’s political damage.

Then came the Winter Olympics.

As we sat around our TV sets for those two weeks of non-stop winter sports, cabinet ministers released non-stop announcements touting their consultations with Canadians about the economic way forward. The Prime Minister’s spokespeople previewed the federal budget, stressing that the government was entirely focused on jobs, jobs, and jobs.

The rest of us, of course, were focused on ice dancing. (Is that even a sport? Who cares? Canada won gold!!!).

But now… The flame is extinguished. The snow is melting. The international athletes have returned home.

And the minority government is back in Parliament, sitting without a break for weeks on end, managing a still-shaky and politically volatile economic situation.

If the Prime Minister could turn back time, would he prorogue again? It’s a moot point. In politics, as in Olympic Skeleton, there are no do-overs.

The Jewish Vote

23 Nov

Will the next federal election turn on a nasty dispute over which political party is more anti-Semitic than the other?

Probably not. But given the controversy that unfolded recently in the House of Commons, it may not be for lack of trying.

Caught up in the dispute was Irwin Cotler, the former Liberal Minister of Justice and MP for Mount Royal riding in west-end Montreal.

Full disclosure: I spent most of my formative years living in that riding. I’ve known Cotler, who is a friend of my uncle’s, since I was a young child.

It has one of the largest Jewish populations of any riding in Canada. Mount Royal riding also has been represented by a Jewish MP in the House of Commons for more than a quarter-century. Before Cotler, the late Sheila Finestone held the seat for many years.

Not only is it one of the more Jewish-flavored ridings in the country, it is also one of the safest Liberal seats around. It has been almost 75 years since Mount Royal elected a non-Liberal MP. When I was growing up, our local MP was none other than Pierre Trudeau.

A mailbox, the joke goes, could win the riding thanks to its red color. A bad election for Mount Royal Liberals is when their candidate wins less than 65 per cent of the vote.

By that measure, last year’s federal election was not a good one for Irwin Cotler. He was reelected easily, with 55.6 per cent of the vote. But his Conservative rival won 27.3 per cent, an almost ten per cent improvement from that party’s showing in the previous election.

By comparison, when Cotler first ran for Parliament in a 1999 by-election, he won more than 90 per cent of all votes cast.

It was a similar story elsewhere in the country in the handful of Liberal ridings with substantial Jewish populations. In Toronto, the Liberals easily won ridings such as Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre, but with pluralities instead of their frequent outright majorities.

As well, in the 2008 election, the Conservatives took suburban Thornhill, the riding with the largest percentage of Jewish voters in Ontario, although Thornhill does have a history as a swing riding, rather than as a safe Liberal seat.

All of this may explain the recent Commons kerfuffle over anti-Semitism. In a minority Parliament, parties look for any edge they can find to win the few seats that may put them over the top next time around.

For Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, hungry for a majority after twice falling just short, traditionally Liberal seats with sizable populations of ethnic minorities seem to hold the most promise. They are the kinds of ridings in which the Conservative Party made notable headway last year, and hopes to do even better when another election is called.

That helps to explain why households in Mount Royal and other ridings with large Jewish populations recently received taxpayer-funded Conservative party flyers that contrasted Conservative and Liberal actions on issues thought to be of interest to Jewish voters: anti-Semitism; Fighting terrorism; Support for Israel.

“(Conservatives) led the world in refusing participation in Durban II hate-fest against Israel,” one of the flyer’s bullet points read, referring to the controversial UN Conference on Racism. “(Liberals) willingly participated in overtly anti-Semitic Durban I.”

Not so fast, replied Cotler and other Liberal MPs from ridings targeted by the Conservative campaign. In the House of Commons, Cotler demanded an apology, pointing out that he had been an outspoken critic of Durban I, which he attended in 2001:

“Not only did the Canadian delegation and I myself speak unequivocally in condemnation of Durban but… Israel, at the time, publicly commended Canada for its participation and the nature of its participation in the Durban I conference.”

It is quite a stretch to paint an MP like Irwin Cotler – whose bona fides as a human rights activist and a supporter of Jewish causes are impeccable – with even the hint of an anti-Semitic brush.

Conservatives were careful not to criticize Cotler directly, but also offered no apologies for the flyers. Instead, they pointed to controversial statements made in the past by other Liberal MPs, including leader Michael Ignatieff.

Will these hardball tactics work? Tories risk a backlash if Jewish voters feel manipulated or turned off by playing politics with accusations of anti-Semitism.

But the party seems confident that the Jewish vote is ripe for the picking.

Election Year? No… Groundhog Day

8 Sep

The beloved 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”, starring Bill Murray, frequently appears on critics’ lists as one of the greatest film comedies of all time.

It tells the tale of an egotistical TV weatherman who journeys to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day ceremony – an assignment he approaches with smug superiority – only to get stuck in a time warp, waking up every morning to find himself experiencing Groundhog Day over and over again.

Almost as soon as it was first released, the movie became so popular and influential that the phrase “Groundhog Day” entered popular consciousness as shorthand for a disagreeable experience that one seems to live through repeatedly.

It’s not very well known, but the original screenplay for “Groundhog Day” had a Canadian theme and a notably different plot than that of the eventual film classic.

The first draft of the movie – tentatively titled “Election Year” – had Bill Murray playing an Ottawa MP, rather than a Pittsburgh meteorologist. The opening scene takes place immediately after the votes have been all counted at the end of an autumn federal election.

The incumbent government of the day has just won a narrow minority mandate, and the film opens with the Prime Minister giving a rousing speech to supporters at his party’s election night headquarters. He declares that the Canadian people have spoken, and that although his party did not win a majority, it will govern for all citizens by working co-operatively with all the opposition parties to provide effective leadership through difficult times.

Unlike the eventual film, this early draft had a time frame of an entire year, rather than a single day. Through the deft use of cinematic montage, we see the year unfold briskly through the eyes of Bill Murray’s egotistical main character.

Shortly after the election, Parliament resumes and the government and opposition parties pay lip service to – and make dramatic shows of – trying to work together for the good of the nation. But almost as soon as they make their pledges, we see them beginning to engage in petty battles in the House of Commons, in name-calling through the media, and in secret plotting in caucus rooms.

Over the winter and into the spring, the government releases negative ads attacking the opposition. The other parties reply in turn. Opposition leaders begin playing games of brinkmanship, threatening to bring down the government over every piece of legislation it introduces, then pulling back when the government makes some sort of cosmetic change to its plans.

As the year unfolds, politicians of all stripes seem less and less focused on the challenges of steering the ship of state and increasingly distracted by the possibilities, pitfalls and opportunities of the government falling. The polls, meanwhile, barely move at all.

Summer brings no respite from politics, as election rhetoric continues to boil, back room organizers continue to scheme, and media continue to ponder how much longer this minority Parliament can last.

At the first turning point of the original screenplay, the Bill Murray character wakes up to find himself in the middle of the same fall election as in the beginning of the film, with the same result – another narrow minority government. The Prime Minister gives the same victory speech and the cycle continues anew, with the year again unfolding exactly as it had the first time around.

No matter what Bill Murray the MP does, he can’t stop reliving the same year repeatedly. It always begins and ends with an election that brings a minority government to power.

After the screenwriters completed this first draft of the film, movie producers said the script needed much work. They liked the whole time-warp idea, and the cynical main character who can’t escape his circumstances.

But a Canadian government that keeps getting elected as a minority, lasting a little while, collapsing, then getting elected again as a minority, with the same inconclusive election happening repeatedly at regular intervals?

“Come on,” one of the producers said. “Sure this film is a comic fantasy, but the premise has to be more believable than that! I know! Make the Bill Murray character a meteorologist who relives Groundhog Day over and over again…”

And so a classic film comedy was born. And the whole endless-minority-government-cycle idea was dumped where it belonged: Onto the scrap heap of improbably bad fictional ideas.

Years later, the whole idea was revived. This time in real life.

Where’s Bill Murray when you need him?

The Conservative (???!!!!) Budget

30 Jan

Sometimes the best way to put present circumstances in perspective and to figure out what to expect in future is to look back on the past.

With that in mind, I dug out an old report card.

The comments started out well:

“The positives are impressive: he has a brilliant strategic mind, a sound grasp of public policy, and good communications skills in both French and English.”

Not bad. On the other hand:

“The negatives – his mistrust of the grassroots, his tendency not to be a team player … and the tendency to withdraw – are manageable if they are acknowledged and compensated for by the strengths of others.”

Well, there you have it. The good and the bad. A blunt assessment of protégée by mentor.

The protégée, in this case, is the Prime Minister of Canada. And the mentor is no political detractor, but rather Preston Manning, the man who gave Stephen Harper his first job in politics, as his trusted lieutenant in the Reform Party that Manning founded and led.

The Reform Party, of course, morphed into the Canadian Alliance, which Stephen Harper eventually led into a merger with the old PC Party. The united Right party – the big-C Conservatives – then took power, Harper became Prime Minister, and the small-c conservative revolution that Manning championed became reality in Canada.

Not so fast.

Did you happen to hear about the federal budget released the other day? Huge deficits, massive spending, the addition of a forecasted $85-billion to the national debt over five years, the creation of a new Trudeauesque regional development agency – this one for recession-ravaged Southern Ontario, and… hard to believe, but true… money for culture and the arts.

The old Reform Party – indeed, the old Harper – would have furiously attacked any government that dared to propose this kind of a budget. The old Harper would have called it wasteful, irresponsible… liberal.

Instead, it was his party and his government that introduced just such a budget.

Clearly, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

What we’re in, of course, is a global economic crisis. And the budget is a reaction to that. Governments – conservative and liberal alike – all over the Western world are proposing similar measures to stimulate their economies.

In their budget document, Canada’s Conservatives described their measures as “timely”, “targeted” and “temporary”. Whether or not they turn out to be any of those things won’t be evident for many months.

What the measures clearly aren’t:


The government anticipates that once things improve, it will be able to revert to its more traditional approach of slashing spending, paying down the debt, and shrinking the role of government in the economy instead of expanding it.

This may be wishful thinking. History has shown that it’s much easier to open the spending taps than it is to close them again.

Of course, every budget is not only an economic blueprint, but also a political document. This one perhaps more than others because it comes after the government’s near-death experience last fall. The budget was designed to save the government from defeat at the hands of a newly united opposition.

In that respect, it seems to have succeeded, at least in the short run. The morning after the budget’s release, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters he was putting the Conservatives “on probation” and the Official Opposition would support the budget as long as the government agreed to regular reports to Parliament on the progress of the economy.

That’s a heck of a lot better for Harper than what Ignatieff’s predecessor, Stéphane Dion, was offering last fall – namely, an immediate vote of non-confidence in the government and its replacement by a coalition government.

Which brings us back to Preston Manning’s observations about Harper, taken from Manning’s 2002 autobiography.

Global economic crisis aside, the reason the government had to move as far as it did from its core philosophical beliefs in introducing such a budget is tied to some of the negative characteristics that Manning observed in his former lieutenant.

Harper’s mistrust of consultation, his go-it-alone instincts, led him astray, revitalized his political opposition and created a situation where his government will be forced to consult Liberals more than ever before and put a tremendous amount of water in its ideological wine if it wants to survive.

If you disagree with the Conservative Party’s ideology, you’ll see that as a good thing for the country. But if you’re a true believer, you may be pining for the days of Reform.

Programming note: I produced an interesting televised panel discussion on this very topic the other day, where smarter minds than I weighed in. You can download a podcast here.