We win! Another article on the long time decline of the arrogant grits. I guess I have Trudeau and pseudo chretien.
Long-term decline of a great party
August 10, 2011
Many Canadians reacted with shock to the federal Liberal party’s distant third-place finish in the last election. Was it an anomaly brought upon by a flawed leader or a sudden change in the Canadian political order? The answer is neither. It is simply the latest milestone in a long-term decline in a party that previously had contributed greatly to making Canada one of the best countries in the world.
The myth of the federal Liberals as Canada’s natural governing party has been propagated by its members and political observers long after its potency had already begun to wane. A Liberal opposition, many thought, was simply a government in waiting until the next election set the world right. The elections of the last 30 years, however, tell a different story. Only once since 1980 has the Liberal Party of Canada defeated a united Conservative party. In the last 37 years, Canadians have just once elected a majority Liberal government when a unified Conservative party was an option. Observing more recent trends, the actual Liberal vote has declined in every election but one since 1993. How in the face of such objective facts has the perception of the omnipotent Liberal party been sustained?
The emergence of the Bloc Québécois and the Reform party in the 1990s masked the protracted and entrenched decline of the Liberal party in Western Canada and Quebec. Despite various appeals, the Liberal party has never been able to attract meaningful levels of support in Western Canada since 1968. The Reform party’s rise, beginning in the West, initially allowed some Liberals to get elected as the right of centre vote split. This simply distracted many from the fact that the Liberal party had become largely irrelevant in the fastest growing region of the country. Moreover, the influence of huge Ontario caucuses in Liberal governments in the 1990s may have led to policies that further alienated Western voters. In Quebec, the Bloc performed a similar role as a shiny spoon that diverted our attention from the fact that the Liberal party had failed to regain the dominant position in Quebec that it had lost in the 1980s. During the Bloc’s reign, Quebec seemed out of reach for all federalist parties so, perhaps, this was not a problem particular to the Liberal party. This year’s election results should have shaken Liberals from this false comfort.