Canadians vote today in a general election that ends the longest political campaign in modern Canadian history. At 11 weeks’ duration, many Canadian voters feel a little fatigued, but their decision in the ballot box today will matter a great deal. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are offering more of the same, the New Democrats under Tom Mulcair are offering a left-of-center program that would likely make the nation better off. However, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have offered something more — optimism. The single most important resource in any body politic these days is hope. For that reason, this journal urges a vote for the Liberals by its readers in Canada.
Mr. Harper’s years in office have been typical of a conservative party in power in a Westminster-style democracy; take it or leave it. However, he has been in office so long is that he is the issue, and it doesn’t play well. The Globe and Mail summed up the personality issue this morning, “Mr. Harper makes a relatively rare appearance in his party’s own advertising to say this election is ‘not about me’ but about ‘you and your family,’ seemed to have almost no effect at all on either vote intentions or comparative perceptions of the leaders. And a separate set of questions found that, somewhat unusually for a positive ad, there were significantly more undecided voters who said the ad made them less likely to vote Conservative than there were those who said it made them more likely to vote for Mr. Harper’s party.” His effectiveness in a further term, thus, is questionable. Even if one approves of his policies (and this journal does not), his ability to govern is grossly diminished. The only thing worse for a nation than a conservative government is a weak conservative government.
As for the New Democrats, which this journal has endorsed in previous elections, one cannot accept the shift to the right that Mr. Mulcair has brought. The Kensington Review is in complete agreement with the editorial board at the Toronto Star, which wrote “Evidently convinced their main challenge was reassuring voters they would not be too risky, [the NDP] erred in the opposite direction — offering not enough change to voters eager for it. By locking themselves into a balanced-budget guarantee, they managed to handcuff their own social conscience.”
There is nothing wrong with a left-wing political group favoring a balanced budget. California’s Jerry Brown has proved just how this can work, and this journal believes he is the best president America never had. However, a balanced budget should occur over the course of the business cycle. The party took control of the arch-conservative province of Alberta with policies rather different than those Mr. Mulcair is offering. It is a shame that Mr. Mulcair believed a rightward tack was necessary.
The main charge against the Liberals is the relative youth and inexperience of Justin Trudeau, the party leader. The Star wrote on Friday, “over the course of the campaign the Liberal leader has emerged as a sure-footed, confident figure who is easily a match for his older and more experienced rivals. His comparative youth, once a liability, now seems like a genuine advantage as voters hunger for generational change.” As a general rule, political dynasties are a bad idea, but one cannot discount the experience the young Mr. Trudeau got simply being the son of Pierre Trudeau.
The Liberals are proposing the kind of hopeful change that Canada, one of the most decent nations in history, deserves. As theStar put it, the Liberals are the vehicle for “those who believe Canada can be more generous, more ambitious and more successful.”
In those rare ridings where the race is between the Conservatives and the NDP, those places where the NDP doesn’t figure, a tactical vote for Mr. Mulcair’s team is more than acceptable. However, Canadians ought to vote their ambitions for their country, and the Liberals are the best positioned to build a Canada that is “the True North strong and free.”