Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Tory malady: pussyfoot conservatism

George Jonas:

The Tory story rarely varies. Whenever the centre-right wins an election, the centre-left allows that its opponents have the office, but denies they have the mandate. They can govern for a term, yes, but only by consensus, not according to their own lights. They may steer the bus to a mutually agreed destination. Driving it along a route of their choice is out of the question.

Majority isn't the issue. The centre-left reminds the centre-right of its inherent lack of mandate as soon as the votes are counted, whether the centre-right's win is a squeak or a landslide. This is especially true in Canada. The amazing thing isn't that the centre-left makes this declaration -- why shouldn't it? -- but that the centre-right often believes it, or acts as if it did. Majority or minority, Tories tend to govern apologetically, as if they were caretaker governments, probationary constables, relief politicians holding the fort until the real politicians catch their breath and return for the next spell of legitimate centre-left governance.


The Harper regime suffers from a case of fulminating pussyfoot-conservatism, explained if not excused by electoral verdicts that twice denied Harper a majority. Would winning a majority cure the Tory pussyfoot, or at least provide symptomatic relief? Ignatieff's folly may give us a chance to find out.

If people vote for you, it's because they chose what you have to offer over the others.

Remember that.