Recent Canadian election shows opportunity to have a centrist voice

The May 2 federal election shook the political landscape. For the first time in a while, Canada is going to see a very polarized parliament. The Conservative Party won a majority, while the New Democratic Party is now the official opposition. The Liberals and Bloc Quebecois have been left in ruins.

While both hardcore conservatives and left wing ideologues are no doubt basking in the gains, centrism does have a future. Canada needs centrism to regain itself as a leader on many progressive issues.

The election result for many progressive thinking Canadians who want a high-tech, low-carbon economy did not work out. We have Harper now with a majority government that will advocate for supporting the oil industry. A Harper government could drastically decrease the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly power, as the Vancouver Sun reported.

Other pursuits the Conservatives could include: privatize the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, one of the few places that still does some of the best journalism work in Canada; and expand oil sands production in Alberta, which may lower gas prices in the short term but would have even more environmental effects in the area.

On the other end of the political spectrum, the New Democrats as the official opposition will bring their own concerns to the table, including increased arts funding, more health care funding and more funding to protect wildlife.

To get a sense of how polarized the next four years in federal Canadian politics will get, the NDP is requesting a funding increase to Canadian artists, according to the CBC. The article pointed out that when the Conservatives bring in their budget, they will likely cut arts funding.

Do you get a sense of the polarization coming up? I sure do!

You can forget about clean environment policies through strong green technology policies, promoting high tech research and development, and allowing universities to provide the highest quality of education to prepare young people for the global market place.

But activists will sure as heck be proud to chant protest slogans, raise awareness, and put out protest signs at what I am sure will be a protest every month coming soon to a legislative building near you.

There will be no talking about solutions to our problems.

Get ready for a Parliament Hill that will look like a sandbox fight at the elementary school yard for the next few years.

What Canada needs now is a centrist vision for where our country is going, not a sandbox fight.

We need to have clear engagement between both left and right on how to solve many of the issues that concerns us as Canadians.

We need to look at our friends down south who have numerous groups like No Labels and Third Way, who are discussing about breaking out of the traditional left/right spectrum to provide concrete solutions to such problems like providing affordable education, strong clean energy policies that would wilt our way off of fossil fuels without killing the economy.

Would it kill this next Parliament to not act like little children and realize Canada could do much better than what it is now?

I am hopeful that a centrist movement will arise out of the ashes from the recent federal election. Canada is in need of a balanced voice more than ever.

Adam Johnston is an economics and rhetoric and communications student at the University of Winnipeg who focuses on environmental, economic and technology issues at

Published in Volume 65, Number 26 of The Uniter (June 2, 2011)

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