Dr. John Samuel
Canada is to have a general election on October 14. Polls indicate that the result could be another minority government, perhaps of the Conservative Party. Or, maybe, it could be a coalition of Liberals and New Democratic Party. Either of the outcomes would be no surprise; nor would it be unwelcome to most Canadians despite the economic turmoil the world is going through.
The Conservative Party is headed by a very personable and strategic leader with a plastic smile – Stephen Harper. However, looking at his past pronouncements and recent political performance, most Canadians do not seem to trust him or his Party. There are important questions asked by many Canadians.
If Stephen Harper gets a majority:
• Would he progressively privatize healthcare?
• Would he try to drag Canada to become part of the US gun lobby?
• Would he further reduce the immigration levels he has started to chip away, to maintain whatever is left of the ethnic “purity” of Canada?
• Would he decimate the relatively non-partisan public service to save a few pennies for the taxpayers?
Though there is no realistic hope that the Liberals alone will form a minority government, there are many Canadians who see them as a Party that talks a lot about immigrants and visible minorities (the equivalent of people of colour in the US) but does very little for them. For instance, the previous Liberal government (of Paul Martin) once appointed 17 senators. Not even one belonged to a visible minority group though in less than 9 years every fifth Canadian would likely be in that group. Immigration levels were frozen and immigration queue became longer and longer, as it is now.
The new Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, has the charisma of a dead fish, and his English language capabilities seem somewhat limited. He appears to be a good professor, though a poor politician. If his Party does poorly, he would definitely be replaced, as he should be.
The conscience of Canada is known as the New Democratic Party – the Party that gave Canada universal healthcare and made it a right, not a privilege of the wealthy. Recently, under an energetic and at times enigmatic leader, Jack Layton, its supporters are increasing. But most Canadians are leery about too high a dose of socialism, as was found during that Party’s heyday in Ontario province, where they were in power once.
The electors have also other choices like the young Green Party and in Quebec there are the separatists both of which have no hope of being part of the federal government.
What will be the outcome on October 14? We will have to wait and see.
(John Samuel is managing editor of South Asia Mail and has been a senior public servant in the Canadian governments. He founded and headed several community organizations and is currently an adjunct professor at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.)