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article imageOp-Ed: The changing face of Canadian politics

By Karl Gotthardt     Apr 16, 2013 in Politics
Ottawa - Justin Trudeau won the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) with 80 percent of the vote, while Tom Mulcair was confirmed by New Democrats (NDP) by 92 percent of delegates at the party's national convention. A shift is due in Canadian politics.
There is a wind of change blowing from Ottawa, in which both the NDP and LPC have given notice that the days of Prime Minister Harper's conservatives are over and that the work for this started on April 14. Meanwhile the NDP and LPC will be positioning themselves to convince center left voters in Canada that they are the best party to replace conservative rule.
With newly elected leader Justin Trudeau, some recent polls have indicated that the LPC could win 40 percent of the vote, which puts the party into majority territory. Most of the liberal gains come at the expense of the NDP, which won an unprecedented 103 seats, mostly in Quebec, during the last election.
Call it euphoria, call it optimism or call it fantasy. The LPC with the selection of Justin Trudeau feels it can regain its place in Canadian politics, which clearly established it as the governing party in Canada during the twentieth century.
New Democrats have reason to be optimistic as well. New Democrats have been the official opposition for a year now and Thomas Mulcair has been able to move the party to the center to make it more palatable to the voters. NDP's 2013 policy convention in Montreal the party adopted a new constitutional preamble that removed language, which referred to it as socialist, while maintaining that the party is based upon "social democratic and democratic socialist traditions". This was a compromise reached to satisfy the radical left, which believes in nationalization of some industries.
According to the LPC website, liberals stand for equality of opportunity, true fiscal responsibility, a clean environment, affordable access to secondary education, open, fair and strong democratic representation and an evidence based crime policy.
With Trudeau's celebrity appeal, one could argue that the LPC is out of the gate first with an advantage over the NDP's Thomas Mulcair. Although 92 percent of delegates voted against a leadership review of Mulcair, many Canadians, especially west of Ontario are not comfortable with Mulcair, a former Quebec liberal. On the other hand, Justin Trudeau is popular in most regions in Canada, with Alberta perhaps the only exception.
Harper's conservatives, quick to realize that liberals may have a powerful marketing tool with its new leader Justin Trudeau, were not long in bringing out attack ads portraying the new charismatic leader of the LPC as lacking substance. With at least 62 per cent of Canadians supporting the two center of left parties, the CPC has a formidable task to ensure reelection in 2015. The majority of Canadians are suspicious of Harper and still believe, after seven years in power, that he has a hidden secretive agenda.
The National Post reports that Trudeau benefits from having grown up in the public eye and that Canadian feel they know him. While none of those attributes, including his inclination to do things his way regardless of the flak he takes, demonstrate that he can lead, He has to date not shown any depth.
None of this means he is ready for government, or even that he will be a success as leader. He is lacking in experience; he has to date shown little evidence of depth; his judgment has been called into question on many occasions. If he exceeded expectations in the campaign, it is mostly because expectations were so low to start with. Though in his forties, he seems much younger, as if he were just now emerging from an extended adolescence.
But he is a Trudeau, and for now that is all that matters.
Conservatives were well prepared during Question Period on April 15, with conservative members of Parliament making statements to put both Trudeau and Mulcair in a bad light. During Question Period, naturally, all eyes were on Trudeau to see how the new liberal leader would handle his first question directed at the Prime Minister.
Since the conservative attack ads had questioned Trudeau''s judgment, the new leader turned it around during his first question to the Prime Minister. Using the example of newly introduced tariffs introduced in the government's spring budget, which would increase costs on bicycles and iPads, Trudeau wanted to know why the conservatives were hitting middle class families.
"So now that the prime minister knows what's in his budget will he show good judgment, admit it's a tax, and repeal these taxes on middle-class Canadians?" Trudeau demanded.
Harper answered each question by assuring Trudeau that the government had lowered taxes of the middle class, by putting $3200 extra into the pockets of Canadians and that the policy of income sharing on pensions had also put money in the pocket of seniors.
Yesterday's question period marked a shift in Canadian politics, Trudeau will continue his support to the middle class. In an interview he said that he learned a lot during the past six months and will continue to learn over the next two years. Trudeau has time on his side.
Thomas Mulcair will have to demonstrate over the next 24 months where he differs with LPC policy. His task will be to maintain the status quo in Quebec, while gaining support in the rest of Canada. His chances are probably best in British Columbia. The province goes to the polls and May 14 and in all likelihood the NDP will prevail. The performance of a provincial NDP government will determine how successful Mulcair will be.
The real job of convincing Canadians started for Mulcair and Trudeau yesterday. Their performance over the next 18 months will determine the destiny of their parties. Harper's fate is linked to the economy. The face of Canadian politics has changed now it boils down to who has the most compelling appeal to Canadians.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Canadian Politics, Justin trudeau, thomas mulcair, Stephen Harper, liberal party of canada
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