Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Canada frees itself from Harper's regressive grip and moves forward under "sunny," progressive leadership

I'm not sure I've ever been this proud of my country.   I'm even more proud than I was last year when openly queer premier Kathleen Wynne, armed with the best plan for Ontario's future, won a majority government against all odds in the provincial election.

But last night's majority victory for Justin Trudeau's Liberals confirms that Canadians are, above all, thoroughly decent people who can't be scared into voting out of fear and anger. 

Previous Stephen Harper victories made some sense when he was up against old Liberal corruption scandals, or woefully inadequate former Liberal leaders. 

But in Justin Trudeau, clearly Harper met his match and his time was finally up. 

Promiscuous progressives like me wanted badly to rid ourselves of Stephen Harper's regressive leadership and replace him with a government in line with progressive Canadian values like fairness, opportunity, equality, and justice.

Near the end, Harper pandered again to our worst instincts, fanning the flames of intolerance by pledging to use the powers of the state to control what certain women can and cannot put on their bodies during citizenship ceremonies.   Polls that allegedly pointed to widespread support for those discriminatory policies worried me greatly.  Furthermore, the Tories' snitch line against Muslim "barbaric practises," sent a chill down my spine.  There appeared to be nothing Harper wouldn't say to win this election. 

These past weeks, I hoped Canada would reject this regressive politics.  Many progressive Canadians hoped the same as well.  Yesterday, Canadians confirmed we are much better than Stephen Harper.  It was a victory thankfully in line with Kathleen Wynne's 2014 victory, as well as the smashing defeat of the Parti Quebecois in 2014 and its repulsive Charter of Quebec values. 

Tom Walkom wrote a nice column on this today in the Star. 

Although he tried to share his accomplishment with all Canadians, Justin Trudeau's victory could only happen thanks to his own determination, decency and, dare I say it, vision for the country.

"Sunny ways, my friends, sunny ways," said Trudeau last night at the start of his victory speech, quoting former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.  Trudeau's positive leadership is a breath of fresh air.  

We are a country that wants to make peace with its Aboriginal citizens, not castigate them and spread racism against them in order to justify doing nothing much to improve their third world living conditions.  

We are a country that does support Israel's right to exist, but we don't offer unconditional support to Israel's right-wing government to do what it wants without any concern for human rights or basic dignity for Palestinians, as the Harper government did.

We are a country that sees itself as an honest broker on the world stage, not the right-wing militarists Harper wanted us to be.

We are a country that wants to play our part fighting the greatest threat to civilization: climate change.  We don't want to be saboteurs of those international efforts, as we were under Harper.

No, Harper was never a good fit for our country.  But he had good timing and a lot of luck.  That luck ran out big time this 78-day election campaign.  Designed to provide ample time for Justin Trudeau to screw up, instead the overly long campaign gave Trudeau the opportunity to shine and he did.

Canadians noticed and voted accordingly.

I do feel badly for the NDP which had the opportunity at the outset of this campaign to inspire and connect with Canadians.  But Tom Mulcair's somewhat prickly personality, coupled with his overly cautious and bland platform, failed to launch.  Once it became clear that Trudeau's Liberals would be the vehicle to defeat Harper, progressives abandoned the NDP en masse and pushed them back to historic levels of support. 

Should current seat counts be confirmed, the NDP's 44 seats still represent the second highest number of seats they've ever won in a federal election.  Mulcair's strength in Quebec no doubt helped save the 16 seats they won last night.  Another leader might've lost those too and pushed the NDP down even further.

I hope the NDP keeps the new Liberal government on its toes on issues like C51, privacy, human rights, the CBC, child care, foreign affairs, and many other progressive issues.  

As we move forward, I am going to enjoy the fact that our country's new leader goes out of his way to participate in Pride Day events, supports equality, and wants to bring out the best in us as human beings.   That's something we can all enjoy and cherish.  

2 comments:

Kirby Evans said...

Nice post Matt. I would have liked to see the NDP hold the balance of power but it is still such an incredible relief to see the back of Harper. The angry, nasty, Ford-brother, politics of Harper has no place in our nation and I hope a few years of good governance will remind people of our better traditions and that the Conservative Party will grow up and move forward to a better place. It was amazing yesterday to see a Prime Minister (elect) yesterday stand in the Press Theatre and answer unvetted questions in a straightforward manner. After years of having a PM who hid in the shadows, never talked to anyone, and acted like some kind of evil, hideous force, it is nice to see a real person as PM. The press is already trying to spin the failure of the Conservatives as only a result of people's dislike of Harper and not of Conservative polices. But I don't think that is true. As much as people understand just how terrible Con Policies have been, the people rejected them entirely, and Canadians want to move on with more sensible, socially conscious policies.

Sixth Estate said...

The media arrived at this talking point before the vote really -- hence the Globe & Mail's endorsement, which allows them to issue a prompt endorsement of the Conservatives as soon as there is a new leader.