I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Silver (NDP so technically Orange) Lining

I know what you're thinking. Your asking yourselves how, really, could the insightful and nuanced American coverage of the end of one of the most powerful Liberal governments in the world could be improved upon? Yes, I am sure that the Canadian election, held not very far from your home, most likely. Has drawn your attention like that of mold to bread or flies to meat. If it hasn't, it should, you know. We should be curious about our neighbors way past silly jokes about how they are stereotypically polite...

Anyway, in case you are part of that portion of the United States who didn't know who the Prime Minister of Canada was (Paul Martin). You need to begin not knowing another world leader (Stephen Harper). After an election marred, I think, by some unfortunate gaffes and stumbles on the part of the Liberal Party, the Conservatives are back in power after a loooong hiatus. In fact, I was an undergraduate studying, of all things, Canadian history at McGill University when Jean Chretien soundly trounced Kim Campbell in one of the most stunning victories in any modern Democracy. That Conservative Party (The Progressive Conservatives) did not survive the beating.

This could be a problem folks. The new government (albeit somewhat weaker than expected) will no doubt try to roll back many of the reforms enacted over the last decade or so. What that will mean, I do not know. However, it is worth watching.

OK, so, the silver lining. The New Democratic Party (NDP) under the leadership of Jack Layton has picked up quite a few seats in Parliament. Why is this important? The answer has to do with the unique dynamics of Canadian politics. The Conservatives have a minority government. This, of course, has to do with the Bloc Quebecois (BQ), who would very much like to take Quebec out of the country. Ah, rules more than science, people!

Anyway, this means that the NDP may be able to slow or blunt some of the Conservative policies. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Toronto Sun:

Layton laid out four fundamental conditions during the campaign that he says are essential for the New Democrats' support in Parliament.
Those "bottom lines" include a demand not to dismantle the country's public, single-payer health care system and the support of Canada's existing environmental commitments.
He also said his party would not allow the country to fall in step with American foreign military policy such as using Canadian troops for more aggressive missions in Afghanistan. The final condition was the defence of civil and equality rights such as same-sex marriage legislation.

Hmmm.... Now do you think you might want to pay attention to Canada?