In the shadow of their Leader's decision to step down following a party convention in the spring: Many will no doubt question how the Liberal fortunes have reached the level of the disaster demonstrated by last week's election results.
As the leadership contenders begin to line-up near the starting line let me weigh in on the subject of numbers. It was not all that long ago that, in fact through most of the last century, the Liberals were considered Canada's "natural governing party." The title wasn't bestowed by accident: As Canwest Journalist, David Akin, pointed-out recently. Mr. Dion is the first Liberal Leader since Edward Blake to have failed to become Prime Minister - Blake lost twice to Sir John A. MacDonald, and was replaced as Party Leader in 1887 by Sir Wilfred Laurier.
Depending on which Historian you consult, Mr. Dion may also go down in history for taking the Liberals to A)their lowest level of popular support in an election (26%), or B)second lowest: The Liberals did not have a party leader when they lost the country's first general election in 1867 with 22% of the vote. Despite his failings, hopefully Mr. Dion will be allowed to leave with dignity.
My point about numbers, the one which causes me grave concern, is not only reflected in the Liberal Party fortunes but to a very large degree in the results for every candidate who stood for election on October 14th: Low Voter Turnout! This election like no other in modern times failed both to engage Canadians and bring them out to the voting booth. Everyone should grieve for the state of our democratic system.
Percentage turnout, 37% for the Conservatives, 26% for the Liberals, does not begin to tell this sordid story. Check out the numbers: There were 23,401,064 registered voters for this election. Less than 60%, 13,832,972, voted. Mr. Harper's Government was re-elected with just 5,205,334 votes...not even one/fourth of Canadian voters. We get the leadership that we deserve. Shame on us.
It is those people who choose to lead us who need to study with care the entrails of this month's general election. It seems to me we are on the road to a level of apathy and disillusionment for which they bear a considerable amount of the blame. Going on down through the next session of Parliament; comportment, decorum, cooperation, in public and in private, should be a prime concern of the Government that leads us. As well as for those candidates who will seek the leadership of the Liberal Party come the spring.