Editorial:Politics of divisiveness not catching on in Canada

Marc Lalonde
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Tories' decision to cover federal government in blue could backfire


The us-vs.-them politics that have permeated American political dialogue in the last decade are being felt little by little in Canada, as our federal government appears to be doing its best to start making everything – including official colours of federal-government websites – its own shade of blue.

This blatant attempt to convince Canadians that blue is the colour of authority is in direct contrast with the boost the federal Liberals – the Tories' sole real opposition, with apologies to the NDP, who are now sitting in opposition – have received in nationwide polls since Justin Trudeau was named leader of the party. The Tories' blue-washing of federal websites is an attempt to somehow retain the moral authority of being Canada's 'natural ruling party,' a title the Grits were only to happy to claim for themselves for years and years. Having taken advantage of the rudderless Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff years, the federal Conservatives must now deal with the possibility of an opposition candidate who can rival Stephen Harper in name recognition and credibility, if not political gravitas.

Trudeaumania: the sequel is no unexpected. Since the son of Pierre Trudeau entered federal politics in 2004, (check) it felt like there was an air of inevitability surrounding Justin's eventual coronation as Liberal leader. It seemed it was only a matter of time, and after he surprisingly and definitively bested Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau in an exhibition boxing match last fall, it seemed as if it would be sooner rather than later that Justin would be elevated to the Grits' leadership.

To his credit, Harper has been ready. Almost as soon as Trudeau entered the leadership race, he has been discredited in attack ads aired by the federal Conservatives, even though the Tories hold a majority government and there is no threat of an election anytime soon.

Whenever one party spends its hard-raised cash to discredit another during a majority-government time frame, you can be sure that there is some level of concern being felt in the highest levels of power.

That said, it would behoove Trudeau to get away from the politics of divisiveness that have characterized U.S. elections of late and which has poisoned the water of political discourse in the great republic to the south – and the likes of which the PQ exploited on their way to winning a minority government last September. Canadians don't like division – but some do, which is how the Conservatives were able to splinter Ontario ridings in 2011's election, giving them the majority they had been looking for since their first minority-election win in 2006. Problem is, once you have enough people saying 'enough' to us vs. them rhetoric, the 'us' becomes awfully big, and the 'them,' becomes far less vocal. It's time for the Tories to embrace that trend as well – and if so, they very well might win some seats in Quebec next time around.

Organizations: Conservatives, NDP, PQ

Geographic location: Canada, U.S., Ontario Quebec

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