Tuesday October 7, 2008
Layton's the ideal opposition
By BILL TIELEMAN
Like or loathe it, the Conservatives will be returned to power on October 14.
But two other important questions are far from decided - who will be Opposition leader and whether it will be a minority or majority government.
After last week's debate and two years of Harper government one thing is very clear - the only real federal opposition in the House of Commons is the New Democratic Party.
And the only real choice for Opposition leader is Jack Layton.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion is a smart, decent man. But Dion and the Liberals don't stand up to Stephen Harper - they prop him up.
On 43 separate occasions in Parliament, Dion's Liberals voted to keep Harper in power and accept his very conservative legislation.
By continually abstaining, the "Official Opposition" has abdicated its important role of serving the majority of Canadians who reject Conservative ideology.
But it wasn't just fear of losing an election that led to the Liberals becoming Conservative Lite - they actually agree with Harper's wrong-headed positions on many key political issues.
Dion and the Liberals support Harper's massive $50 billion corporate tax cuts that reward companies which have eliminated more than 400,000 manufacturing and forest industry jobs since 2000.
And the Liberals and Conservatives want huge tax cuts despite the fact that Canada's tax rates are already lower than many industrialized nations, including the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan.
And Canada also has a much lower Goods and Services Tax than most countries.
Dion and the Liberals joined with Conservatives to vote to extend till 2011 the deadly mission that sent brave Canadian troops into a hopeless situation in Afghanistan.
Dion and the Liberals say they want a "Green Shift" and carbon tax to protect the environment but oppose a proposed NDP moratorium on new Alberta tar sands oil projects - Canada's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
In British Columbia, the NDP is best placed to defeat Conservatives and replace lackluster Liberals while trying to block a Tory majority.
The Green Party can't elect a single MP but progressive Canadians giving the Greens their vote could let Conservatives sneak past NDP candidates.
And whether the Conservatives win a majority or minority government, Canada needs strong opposition to Stephen Harper in Parliament - not the weak leadership of Dion and his absentee MPs.
Canada needs a new leader of the opposition - Jack Layton.