The Wall Street Journal (threatened for the largest circulation in the United States only by USA Today, the McPaper of journalism) is worried about Canada. The New York Times is puckering its ponderous brow. The Washington Post has snapped to attention. The reason, of course, is the threat of the Red Horde marching south from The Great White North. The White House is obsessed, as we know, with the idea of Marxist masses trudging up from Central America and crossing the Texas border on the way to the Potomac. Now there is the ominous shadow of Ed Broadbent, looming over Wall Street and the Oval Office, a bigger danger than even Ollie North’s shredder.
The Post has discovered, to its astonishment, that Mr. Broadjump’s NDP is actually a member of Socialist International, an organization containing the social democratic parties of such dangerous elements as Britain,
France, Italy, Scandinavia, West Germany and most everyone, and, in its world convention in Vancouver some years ago, it revealed itself as another version of a Rotary convention, with half the conversation involving where to go for lunch. The consternation over the fact the Few Democrats have won three byelections and actually lead the popularity polls has very little to do with Red Ed. He is the innocent in this affair. The culprits are John Turner and Brian Mulroney. They are “culprits” without any blame, in that they are victims of circumstances. The reason the NDP and Ed are so high in the polls is that the Regressive Convertibles are led by a Liberal and the Gliberals are led by a Tory. The public is, understandably, confused and so has parked its votes for the moment with the NDP and Ed.
Brian Mulroney is a Tory-by-mistake. His natural inclination is to seek the middle. That’s why he chose as his calling in law the role as a corporate labor negotiator. He built his Montreal
reputation as a guy who liked to get labor and management together in a hotel room until 3 a.m. with too much coffee and too many cigarettes and hammer out an agreement that left everyone semi-happy. (He used the very same tactics in keeping the premiers up all night until they, nodding off, acceded to the Meech Lake accord.) We’re not sure if that’s the way to forge a nation, by exhaustion, but that’s his style.
Myron Baloney, as the NDP calls him, normally would have grown up a Liberal in Quebec, as any ambitious young
law student knew he had to be to get ahead out there in the cruel world, where all patronage flowed from Liberal heaven in Ottawa. By happenstance, apparently because it was cheaper by boat to get to Antigonish, N.S., he enrolled at St. Francis Xavier University.
Once there, as an undergraduate whiz at debating, hockey, dramatics and general skirt-chasing, he came naturally into the ambience of the ruling elite in that end of the world: Premier Robert Standstill in Nova Scotia and prominent Tory Richard Hashfield in New Brunswick. Brian has always gravitated toward those in power and, purely because of geography, became a Tory. He’s not one, though.
John Napier Turner is a Liberal-bymistake. Just as Brian, an Irishman who desperately wants to be liked, seeks the middle ground, John is a natural conservative. His dress is conservative (just a tad short of Bertie Wooster), his lifestyle is conservative, his
friends are conservative, his confusions—witness the current chaos in his caucus—are conservative.
It’s not his fault. It was just that he happened to be born to a very strong Liberal mother. His mother, now ailing, was the first powerful woman in Ottawa, a brilliant, forceful female who, in her way, was an original feminist among the powerful mandarins of the Mackenzie King wartime years. She aimed John at 24 Sussex Drive when he was a young boy. He never had a choice. He had “Liberal” stamped on his forehead, even though he married into a Conservative Winnipeg family and his brother-in-law, Edmonton MP David Kilgour, now exults in his maverick Tory role.
The two current prophets in our time, smiling through their pain, are Senator Keith Davey and Marc Lalonde. Everything they said while trying to topple Turner has come true. As long as he remained leader, they predicted, the NDP would rise in the polls.
Of course. The public doesn’t understand quite o why, but it feels an un| ease with Turner. He’s in t the wrong party. He’s a natural Bay Street backslapper. He’d love to be in the same club with Senator Wally McCutcheon, who has long left us. John was forced to be old before his time because of the expectations that were forced on him.
Both of these men have been dragged, by circumstance, through most of their adult lives by an unknown rope—fate, if you want to call it. They were set on a path—one by family, one by college background— not really of their choosing. F. Scott Fitzgerald could do a very good job on all this.
And so the beneficiary has been the ole boy, Ed Broadbent, who dismayed his Tory-voting parents by becoming a crypto-socialist. The voters are understandably confused—and a little irritated because the old parties are confusing them. The Tories are led by a Liberal and the Liberals are led by a Bay Street Tory. The hell with both of them, the voters are saying. For the moment, we’ll park with Ed.
Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.
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