Never has Canadian politics been so strangely and portentously aligned. Together, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Official Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair are truly unique.
Canada has witnessed pragmatists and intellectuals, party men and outsiders, free men and bought men, face off across the House of Commons. Never before, at one time, however, has Canadian politics been lead by two exceptionally intelligent loners, with a common vision of leadership and confidence that Canada isn’t too big to be lead by two national parties—one center right and one center left.
The right has already united and crushed the little flowers of traditional conservatism. Now, with Harper’s co-operation, Thomas Mulcair, is out to do the same on the left, over the next three or eight years.
This enterprise will unearth indignant and amusing opposition.
Core “social-democrats” will worry about sounding like Liberals, while campaigning on Barack Obama’s tax themes. They’ll argue that it’s safe to trade votes with Liberals in Ottawa backrooms but it's dangerous to campaign on the ground with other progressives in the suburbs of Toronto.
Old Liberals will argue that Canada has outgrown even the Liberal Party’s grand old big tent and that it’s pure vanity that any other tent can ever be built in its place.
That the party of Trudeau, Chretien, King, Laurier, World War Two, and the War Measures Act doesn’t really feel comfortable anymore about the prospect of strong majority governments. They call Harper an autocrat and see Canada inevitably returning to a five-party state.
As in any free country, there should be air time for a true socialist voice in Canada. That voice, however, isn’t loud enough in the New Democratic Party today to prevent the NDP from simply becoming Canada’s Democratic Party.
Mulcair should conduct himself in the North American progressive tradition and challenge all the romancing about European models of coalition democracy.