Listen or Perish at the Polls


THUNDER BAY – Listen or perish at the polls. That is the age old result when a government doesn’t listen to the people. Across the years it has happened time after time, yet often it seems politicians seem incapable of remembering what will happen when they don’t listen.

Living in Alberta at the time of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s efforts at Constitutional change, I remember walking up to the voting booth, where six people were talking about “voting down the Mulroney deal”.

In the next federal election, the Progressive Conservatives were dealt a death blow by voters. They were reduced to two seats.

Again and again, governments end up angering voters. Political parties can do it too, as well as individual politicians.

British Prime Minister Brown came across as the ultimate image of an angry and out-of-touch politician. Brown forgot, apparently that he was wearing a live microphone. His comments about a “bigotted woman” are likely going to put his Labour government into third party status in the British House of Commons.

The image of Brown captured on Youtube are likely to remain as big a part of his political legacy as anything he did in office.

Looking southward, at the United States, as Americans get set for a trip to the polls in November, it is likely that the Democrats are going to pay a political price as voters send a message of frustration to Washington.

Likely a big part of that frustration is quietly being directed at President Obama.

At issue for Obama is that his political achievement is not matching up to either his political rhetoric or the political expectations that he raised across America when running for office.

In Canada, right now, there appears a desire building for change. Yet there doesn’t seem to be politicians understanding there are people looking for change.

In Ottawa, the federal Liberals are continuing to struggle under the leadership of Michael Ignatieff. The poll numbers for the Liberals continue to show that Canadians have not embraced “Iggy” and the party remains in second place.

The problem for the Liberals seems to be that they are mired in playing “gotcha politics” instead of offering Canadians anything new. When Ignatieff does step up with new ideas, it is almost as if his actions right after demonstrate political inexperience.

The Liberals have become the party of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Outside those strongholds, Liberals MPs are increasingly few and far between.

The Liberals have headed politically left into the domain that the New Democrats have held for decades.

Right now the latest polling show that the Liberals are losing ground, and the New Democrats are gaining. Perhaps the message is that if Canadians are looking for a move left that they trust the NDP to actually deliver on their promises.

Like the fairy tale of “Little Bo-Peep” who lost her sheep, the Liberals seem to have lost their way, and don’t know how to find it.

Likely it is a result of continually telling themselves that they are “supposed to govern”, and that people should simply hand them political power so they can get on with the business of governing.

Over the past weeks, the Liberals have focused on the Rahim Jaffer scandal. What they don’t seem to understand is that effort is reinforcing the impression most Canadians have that all politicians are bad.

For the Liberals, it is also serving to remind Canadians of the Sponsorship Scandal.

The problem is that by not offering new ideas, and by not fully engaging Canadians, the Liberals are handing off power to the Conservatives, and watching the NDP gain on them in the polls.

Likely after the next election, and another loss, the Liberals will face a major influx of youth into the party, who will refresh and revitalize the party and bring it together under the leadership of a new generation of Liberals.

Meeting that challenge will likely be Justin Trudeau.

Ignatieff likely will go down in the Canadian history books as the friendly American/ Canadian who stopped by to visit his homeland. It isn’t likely fair, but then who said politics is fair.

That of course is just my opinion, as always your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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