When I was in high school, I decided to join the Progressive Conservatives. You know, just for kicks and for some political experience. Inspired by the Jean Charest-led turnaround during the 1997 election, I chose the Tories because I did not empathize with the then-newly formed Canadian Alliance.
In the face of the political conditions at that time, you'd think I was crazy. The Liberals were almost invincible and the Canadian Alliance had the strongest hold on the West.
Of course, being a member of the Tories also meant being the butt of many jokes. They laughed when I said I held Tory membership. While long being labelled as a geek, I now also held the title of being a freak for joining a party that essentially shot themselves when they implemented the hated GST. I looked past that however, impressed with their centre-right policy, a far cry from the American-style right wing ideology the Alliance was serving up hot and hearty.
Fast forward and we are now coming to the end of a long and harsh era. The Chretien Liberals, now nearing the end of their third mandate, are more of an annoyance now than when they first took power. Without any effective opposition, there has not been a choice. Once Ontario was swept by the red Liberal tide, it was all over.
For almost 10 years, Canada has lived through this horror, but recent news the Tories and the Alliance have finally sat down to talk earnestly about a merger was like a ray of hope in the dark sea of Canadian politics today.
But hold on, what's with the excitement to head off to the altar all of a sudden. After both Jean Charest and Joe Clark had rejected the idea, and Peter MacKay had signed a deal to sell the PC party's soul... er... promised David Orchard there would be no talk of merger to win the leadership, what's with the change of heart?
Simply put, it is the threat of the Paul Martin tsunami.
The man who would be king, having lost the Liberal leadership to Jean Chretien in 1990, the man who would sweep Canada into Martin-mania, and the man who would doom Canada to an eternal oblivion of Liberal governments. In five months--or when the has-been finally decides to call it quits--the tsunami will hit. Is all this talk of a right-wing merger just to agree on building a dike strong enough to protect the right from this potentially devastating tidal wave, or is this for real?
It is obvious no matter what the consequences of the Martin tsunami, defences need to be built. The Liberals, while being slowly poisoned by Chretien's consistent inability to relinquish power, cannot and will not be removed unless a viable alternative exists. If voters don't have another choice on the ballot to mark their X's on, then Canada will indeed be doomed to a Liberal oblivion, regardless of who is at the helm.
Of course, the longer Chretien poisons the Liberals by staying in power and the longer that he continues to split his caucus by bungling socially progressive legislation, there is the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as the right can keep on track and come up with a solution, the light will be closer than ever before. As long as there is some dialogue rolled with sincerity, the light at the end of the tunnel will remain bright.
The Liberals are not invulnerable, but one broad sword to the heart can put them out of their misery faster than two daggers in different positions.