Canadians may be rightly confused about where their federal political parties sit on the ideological spectrum these days. Dion tried to move the Liberal party to the left. The coalition brought with it the possibility of uniting Canada’s left-wing parties, which would have brought the NDP slightly closer to the centre. However, Ignatieff now seems to be moving the Liberals to the right, proposing tax cuts as a viable measure to stimulate the economy. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have flip-flopped on the economic stimulus issue, proclaiming that if only they had heard of this Keynes guy before, they would have ramped up government spending years ago.
This ideological ambiguity prompted talk show host Dave Rutherford to ask the prime minister: “What does it mean to be Conservative today?” To which, by the way, the prime minister could not provide a very good answer. The ideological orgy now taking place on Capital Hill may result in both the government and opposition parties taking a similar stance on foreign policy issues. And the less we hear about the bickering going on in Ottawa, the more we can get back to pretending that they actually have the power to fix the economy.
Beryl Wajsman, president of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal recently proclaimed that, “we may be very well moving into a new era of bipartisan foreign policy.” He was speaking in relation to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff’s stance on the war in Gaza, an issue that has been polarizing for Canadians, but seems to have united Canada’s two main political parties.
“Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself,” said Ignatieff. “Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations.”
This puts the Liberal position firmly in line with that of the government. “The position of the government of Canada is that Hamas bears the burden of responsibility for the deepening humanitarian tragedy,” said Peter Kent, Canada’s minister of state for foreign affairs.
Many are applauding the Liberals firm stance on the issue, which is a change from their previous approach, as explained by Lorne Gunter:
Canadian diplomats and ministers claimed to see merit in the demands of both sides. Our official policy goal was to become an “honest broker” by putting as much stock in the integrity of terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the PLO as we did in the Israeli government.
Of course, as a journalist, I have no opinion on this issue. Therefore, I’m not going to debate the merits of supporting the right of a sovereign state to defend its citizens from a terrorist organization that routinely fires rockets at them. The National Post sums things up quite nicely:
The war in Gaza is not a morally complicated event. On one side is a terrorist group that provoked the conflict with rocket fire, uses civilians as human shields and has gone on record with its desire to exterminate its enemy wholesale. On the other side is a democratic Canadian ally that is seeking to minimize civilian casualties as it fights back against ruthless killers. We’re gratified to see that these facts have not escaped the notice of our country’s leaders.
What this all means is that with the Conservatives moving to the left, the Liberals moving to the right, and agreement between the two parties on some key foreign policy issues, we may actually see the House of Commons work for a change. This is something that I think many Canadians can rally behind.