Thursday, July 14, 2011

The grits and the culture war?

An interesting article by Chantal Hebert. She makes the point that the grits attempt at a culture war was part of their undoing. Martin's careening to the left alienated part of the grit base.

In the dying days of the 2006 federal campaign, then-prime minister Paul Martin stood in front of a gaggle of pro-life and anti-gay marriage government MPs to proclaim that only a Liberal government could be trusted to safeguard the equality rights of Canadians.

That dubious appeal — given Martin’s surroundings — was the last inglorious volley in a culture war originally launched by the ruling Liberals to shelter their vote from Stockwell Day’s Canadian Alliance and, subsequently, from Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

Against an unprepared adversary with active social conservative credentials such as Day, the Liberals — under Jean Chr├ętien — had a field day.

But when Martin turned the same guns on the more secular Harper and a born-again Conservative party, he found himself increasingly shooting blanks and — eventually — shooting himself in the foot.

By January 2006, the narrative that had initially been crafted to equate Canadian values with the Liberal party in the minds of the country’s decisively centrist electorate had lost its already thin veneer of subtlety and become a naked attempt at saving the furniture.

Like all last-ditch attempts, Martin’s appeal was based on more calculation than actual principle and those calculations involved cutting more than a few corners with his own party’s track record.

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