Saturday, June 16, 2012
A lament for Coyne's party. The grits want Le petit foul mouthed dauphin. That would suit the Tories just fine. Matt Gurney is right. Bob Rae is a serious man, and as a serious man could see the leadership of the Liberal Party is no place for serious men. Whatever other factors went into his decision not to run for leader, surely among them must have been a frank judgment that he could not win. A party that is preparing to throw itself at Justin Trudeau is not a serious party. Can the Liberal Party survive? Of course it can. But there is every possibility it won’t. Those who still see the necessity of a third national party in Canadian politics (fourth, counting the Greens) would do well to start contingency planning for that event. Survival in its present form would require the party to reinvent itself to a quite extraordinary degree. Indeed, as I’ve written before, it would have to redefine what it means to be a centrist party. This is not so much because the centre of Canadian politics has disappeared — the much-discussed polarization — as that it has been occupied. The Conservatives, whatever their recent initiatives, are well to the left of where they were a decade ago, while the NDP had moved some considerable way to the right even before it chose Tom Mulcair as its leader. To make space for itself on this landscape, then, the Liberal Party would have to show an unaccustomed boldness and sureness of purpose: a willingness to go where the other parties would not go, but where expert opinion and the national interest would advise, whether this placed it on the right or the left on any given issue. That would be its stamp, its brand: the bold party, the tell it like it is party, the party that did the right thing. The problem with this advice, I now realize, is that it’s a fantasy. There’s just no evidence the party is in anything like that frame of mind, or is likely to be. The premise, that a party with nothing to lose would be liberated to take risks, would seem to have been disproven.