Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 7, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thursday, Novtmbtr 7, 1974 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Common problems in political spectrum By Anthony Westell, Toronto Star commentator OTTAWA The Conser- 'ative and New Democratic larties are searching for far nore than new leaders: They lave to rediscover where they land in the political spectrum ind what they have to offer to i rapidly changing Canada. The Liberals may soon face omewhat the same problem, ''here is a spreading belief in- ide the party that" Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau will lot run in the next election, lartly because his wife is iressing him to quit, but nainly because he expects iver the next few years, as he las said, to make biiingualism ind acceptance of the Quebec- act in Ottawa an irreversible act, which was what he federal politics to ichieve. The inside speculation is hat he and the two comrades vith whom he came to Ottawa n 1965 Jean Marchand and ierrard Pelletier will retire together at the next election. Without Trudeau's policies on federalism and unity and his personality as a leader, the Liberal party will have to in- vent a new approach to politics. The NDP is the first of the parties to face the common problem because it is com- mitted to choose a new leader at a convention next July. Its problem of redefinition is also the most serious because it is the most ideological and least flexible of the parties and therefore finds it harder to adjust to the defeat in the summer elec- tion. The old CCF was a socialist movement, at least in theory, taking a view of society very different from that of its competitors and proposing radical change. It had con- siderable success in influenc- ing other parties, but became 1974 by NEA. Inc "My dear, I did NOT compromise my principles in getting this coat. Mink ;'s NOT an endangered frustrated when it could not win national power. The decision was made in 1961 to create a more broadly based party, the NDP, less ideological, linked closely to the labor unions and appealing to liberally minded persons who might not be socialists. But the plan has gone adrift. Both the leaders since 1961, Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, have been graduates of the old CCF, proudly calling themselves democratic socialists and hardly spokesmen for a new political alignment. In contradiction, the party policies have been mild and reformist, rather than Socialist. New Democrats have argued about how to share private affluence, instead of describing a new society based on public ownership. So in a sense, the NDP has had the worst of both worlds. But when the chips were down after the 1972 election, it appeared to be no more than the left wing of the Liberal party. And in the July elec- tion, it had nothing interesting or exciting to say about inflation, or about any other issue for that matter. The decision the party should make before choosing a leader is whether it wants to swing left or right. To go left means to reaffirm the faith in socialism and seek to apply the basic ideology to modern society. That would be a useful and influential role, following the tradition of the old CCF, but it would not be likely to attract mass popular support and it would not be necessary to look for a leader with great public appeal. An intellectual or a person of saintly conscience or a devoted servant of the party would be acceptable. To turn right means to edge away from socialism toward populism, to emphasize reform rather than peaceful revolution, to embrace small-1 liberals. It might then be ad- visable to seek a leader out- side Parliament and provin- cial politics a union leader, perhaps, or a progressive businessman, or a spokesman for consumer interests, or even a pop academic. Two or three strains of conservatism, each claiming to be the true faith, compete for ascendancy in the modern Progressive Conservative party. The mainstream flows directly from British political thought in the last century, adopted and adapted in Canada by the Fathers of Confederation and modified by North American ex- perience. These Conservatives see society as more than a collec- tion of individuals competing for advantage. They value tradition crown, Com- monwealth, Parliament, religion, morals as a stabilizing influence and are slow to change. They believe in freedom of economic enterprise but do not hesitate to use the power of the state to curb what they consider to be license which threatens to disrupt an ordered society. They have almost a paternal view of social justice: The rich have an obligation to assist the poor, through the mechanism of government if necessary. They are nationalists in the sense that they mistrust the American experiment. Robert Stanfield sought to make this traditional conser- vatism relevant to our times hy moving his party to the compassionate left of Trudeau's Liberals. He talked of a guaranteed income program for those who cannot work, more concern for the unemployed, greater intervention by government in the market to fight inflation, co operation rather than conflict with the provinces to reduce friction and disorder in the country. 6year whisky 5 yearddprice. jfU. Isili Palliser Colony House CanadianWhisky. He valued the French tradi- tion in Canada. On all these policies he was constantly challenged by- merobers of his party drawing their inspiration from quite different roots. The doctrine of unrestricted free enterprise, minimum government and opposition to the welfare state is essentially American. Although it is call- ed conservatism in the United States, it is really the right wing of liberalism, the Goldwater version of in- dividual freedom and enterprise in a young, pioneer- ing society. It is not surprising that this strain of conservatism is found in western Canada which shares experiences and lifestyles with the American west and still feels itself to be a pioneer society. One is tempted to try to define a third strain of self serving conservatism, the Bay St. business Tories allied with suburban reactionaries and the rural wing of the Big Blue Machine at Queen's Park. But it took such a beating last July that it may not be an effective voice in the federal party at present. The Conservatives will not thrash out their differences in open ideological debate, but the competing strains of thought probably will be represented by candidates for the leadership. The candidate with the widest appeal across the Conservative spectrum will win, and my bet, at the moment, would be on Claude Wagner, who speaks from the French tradition to the English tradition in tones of authority touched with concern for the weak. The Liberals face a choice rather than a problem. They can edge from their dominating position in the centre to the left or right, depending on the political needs and circumstances of the time. They will watch the New Democrats and the Conservatives go through the painful process of review and reform and then move to counter whichever seems to offer the great threat. In so doing, if they are smart as usual, they will probably reflect the slow movement of public opinion. Books in brief "Sex and Security" by Dave Broadfoot (McGraw Hill Ryerson, 152 Dave Broadfoot, the honorable member of Parlia- ment for Kicking Horse Pass, discusses all the important subjects which could be ex- pected from a member of the Apathetic Party. After the confusing begin- ning a forward, preface, prologue, introduction and dedication Mr. Broadfoot goes on to clarify, in a page or two, such noteworthy topics as sex education, the economy, air and water pollution, foreign ownership, western and Quebec separatism, capital punish- ment etc. Dave Broadfoot is probably best known for his part in the road show. The Best of Spring Thaw. Comedy Crackers and The Royal Canadian Air Farce. This witty book can give any- Canadian an evening of light enjoyment. JOANNE GROVER "Playing Around: The Million Dollar Infield Goes to Florida" by Hall. McCauley, et ai.