The Inroads listserv's campaign diary: selected and edited from the Inroads listserv by Bob Chodos.

AuthorChodos, Bob
PositionLISTSERV

The Inroads listserv began in 1997 as a means to link Inroads readers and others interested in policy discussion. With nearly 130 subscribers, it offers one of the few chances for people of diverse views to grapple with social and political issues in depth.

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The Inroads listserv was active during the election campaign, commenting on everything from Stephen Harper's attempt to demonize a hypothetical coalition government at the outset to the NDP surge at the end. The selection that follows covers the last few days of the campaign, as the possibility of the Liberals being displaced by the NDP as the second largest party loomed large. For a more extended selection, covering the whole campaign, see www.inroadsjournal.ca/newsletter/

From: Garth Stevenson | April 30

Becoming the "official" opposition (an expression of which John Diefenbaker disapproved, but one hallowed by years of Canadian usage) would have enormous psychological benefits for the NDP--and some practical advantages too, such as more research money and more exposure during parliamentary debates. It would finally end the "why waste your vote on a third party?" syndrome and mark a completely new era in Canadian party politics--perhaps the most fundamental change since the achievement of responsible government in 1848. Plus I have no doubt that Jack Layton would make a very effective opposition leader in Parliament--perhaps the most effective since Diefenbaker.

If it happens on Monday, as I believe it will, I think historians will record that the decline and fall of the Liberals began when they made fundamental changes to the constitution without Quebec's consent in 1981-82. That ended the credibility of their claim, on which they traded for almost a century, to be the only party that could build bridges between Quebec and anglophone Canada.

Garth Stevenson is Professor of Political Science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.

From: Anthony Westell | April 30

The Liberal Party has been in long-term decline, losing first the west and then Quebec. The Chretien-Martin era was made possible only by the Reform/Conservative divide. The apparent rise in the NDP in this election makes a comparison with with the decline of the British Liberals and the rise of the Labour Party after World War I attractive. But the NDP is not the Labour Party. The Labour Party was a socialist party promising a new world, while the NDP is mildly social democratic, promising just a few adjustments in policy. It is not much different from the Liberal Party. So what explains its sudden popularity? As I see it, this campaign has been mostly about choosing a leader. Policy counts for little. Few find Harper a likeable personality; many dislike him. We tend to forget the Tories set about destroying Ignatieff personally with a blitz of TV advertising even before the campaign began. In retrospect...

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