Sleeping With The Elephant
“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” — Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Press Club in Washington, D.C. (25 March 1969) via Wikipedia (16)
For most Canadians, the mere existance of the modern Republican party, with it’s policies as stated, is a baffling thing. Our most “right wing” Prime Minster would have been a fairly left-of-center Democrat by current US political concepts. We love our liberalism, even amongst our small-c conservatives.
“Liberalism is the philosophy for our time, because it does not try to conserve every tradition of the past, because it does not apply to new problems the old doctrinaire solutions, because it is prepared to experiment and innovate and because it knows that the past is less important than the future.” — PM E.Trudeau, 1968 Liberal leadership convention via Wikipedia (16)
However, there is something very wrong right now with the global political climate. We have functionally moved into “Cold War 2.0”, and “dezinformatsiya” (17) is now a weapon of mass disruption of Western political functions.
It is widely accepted that the so-called “Brexit” campaign was one which used dishonest and fear-based appeals to nationalism to win it’s cause. (18)
Both the German and French national elections are openly considered to be at risk of extra-national meddling. Both countries have parties who have avowed to withdraw from interntional treaties like NATO. (19 20)
Canada has its very own pair of self-proclaimed admirers of President D.Trump, both contending for the leadership of the Canadian Conservative Party; MP Ms.Kellie Leitch (21) and Mr.Kevin O’Leary (22). Both of them have said some pretty “1932” things lately. Neither of them are likely to win the leadership of the CPC, but they do exist.
So what if we move to a system of government like “Proportional Representation” 23? Well, one of the hallmarks of this system is that it “…can create a government comprising many small parties where consensus is difficult to achieve. Though rare, it may allow a foothold for extremist parties…” (23). For an example of what this means, take a look at the Israeli Knesset. The only way for any one party to maintain power is to strike deals with almost everyone, allowing generally unpalatable minority platforms to become part of national policy.
“That moving to a system of proportional representation could have made it easier for “extremist” parties to win seats in the House of Commons.” — CBC (14)
In otherwords, it seems that the Liberal Party of Canada has made the calculus that it is less risky for Canada right now, based on events in the USA and elsewhere, to have the Canadian Conservative Party win the next election than potentially open the doors for “extremist parties” to become part of the Canadian political landscape.
If Secretary Hillary Clinton had won the election, thereby signalling that the world was safe for liberal progress and neo-nationalistic firebrand talk was unwelcome, I strongly suspect Canadians would be arguing over which exact new system the next Federal Election would be conducted under.
However, the sweeping Republican victories at all three levels of Federal government set a very different stage. What was the world’s largest functioning, forward-moving democracy has just declared a return to the pre-Pearl Harbour social and economic landscape. The US has suddenly made it fashionable to be a fascist, in that very “1932 Style”, and with it comes unprecendented risk to making changes in stable and predictable electoral systems.
The Canadian government has opted to “stay the course” for now, it would seem, because we do not wish to risk all of the progress we have made since December 9th, 1941. It is a politically dangerous move that could well shorten PM J.Trudeau’s political career. However, as noted above, he plays the long game.