Down through the years
In April 1963, I walked Highway 24 from Brucedale to Guelph carrying signs in support of the Liberal candidate, Ralph Dent, in the riding of Wellington South. There were about a dozen of us Young Liberals on the ten-mile trek to my home town that marked my first foray into politics. Dent lost to the Progressive Conservative incumbent, Alf Hales, but the PC minority government was replaced by a Liberal minority under Lester Pearson.
I have often described myself as a Pearsonian Liberal, someone who believed the state could help in specific ways, such as universal health care. I also liked the fact that Pearson used to say that if he had a choice, he’d rather be manager of a baseball team. Robert Stanfield, for whom I worked in the 1970s, was similarly free of the ego needs that drive too many office-holders.
All of which is to say that I have been an active party worker, salaried employee or observer of politics for a long time. As many others may have noticed, in recent years the quality of candidates and the tone of governments has deteriorated.
At the same time, regional issues became rampant. I understood Rene Levesque’s fight for sovereignty, although I did not support it. I could also understand the complaints of the West, but it always seemed to me that Preston Manning brought out the worst in people. Such divisiveness pales with the arrival of Pierre Poilievre, a candidate for leader of the Conservative Party.
Poilievre is like no other who has ever sought leadership of any Canadian political party. First elected in 2004, he was a nonentity until recently, showing no signs of policy ideas or common sense. Now, he has become unavoidable as his views become crazier every day. He blames inflation on budget deficits and the governor of the Bank of Canada. If only economic matters were that simple.
Poilievre also supports the convoy crowd who thought they were going to take power in Ottawa without an election. But at the rate he’s drawing support it appears he will be leader of the Conservative Party and, perhaps, prime minister. If that happens, we will have democracy in a dunce cap. I may have to get out and walk that highway again.
Spot on Rod, all the way through your remarks. If need be I will gladly help make placards. A lot of energy will be needed to counter the growing tide of negative populist beliefs. The schools could do a lot to help as well, in reviving classes on civics and government.