The Doomed Left
During the reign of Jean Chretien, the Liberal Party Of Canada polled well above 40%. Today, after Dion and Ignatieff, a new sense of enthusiasm seems to have taken hold of liberals everywhere. Justin Trudeau has jolted the party into a tie with the Conservatives. Only a tie. There is no 50% polling and no certain lead. This enthusiasm isn't anywhere near what it once was, but that hasn't stopped the Liberal machine and Canada's media from hyping something that has turned out to be far more disappointing than what Liberals were actually hoping for last year. The Liberal party seems to have permanently lost its fizz, but it's not something anyone really wants to admit.
In 2003, Stephen Harper promised to defeat the Liberals and make the Conservative Party Canada's natural ruling party. That hasn't quite manifested, but he did succeed at knocking the Liberals down and keeping them down. Not even Justin Trudeau, the son of a popular Prime Minister, could lift the party back to where it once was. That alone should trouble the Liberal Party's old guard and its establishment.
Without the help of the NDP, none of Harper's agenda would have been possible. Jack Layton's charisma helped the NDP achieve something it had wanted for decades. The NDP became relevant and moved upward from its third party status. After his death, the party plummeted back down to where it was always comfortable -- below 25%. The biggest problem for the Liberals is that they never gained anything substantial from the NDP's return to its rightful place. Both sides of Canada's left gained equal footing at the bottom. Neither is capable of achieving anything at the moment. The left is divided and that will be what keeps Stephen Harper in the Prime Minister's office.
The NDP is stronger than ever before, but the Liberals are weaker. Both are equally doomed as a result.
A new Nanos poll shows support for the NDP and Liberals dipping and support for the Conservative Party steady. Similar polls find Trudeau and Mulcair trustworthy, but not competent enough to lead the country. This is a significant indication of which direction voters will take Canada in 2015. To add salt to the left's wounds, the Liberals are losing support in Quebec -- Trudeau's home province. With such a "popular" and charismatic young leader, Liberal support should be skyrocketing, but it isn't. Trudeau's endorsement of legalized marijuana hasn't done anything to boost his popularity either.
Currently, polls show all three parties in a statistical tie. The true results are in the details. Conservative support has eroded slowly since 2012, but it stopped just before dropping below 30%. It hasn't dropped below that point and likely won't. Liberal support has seen larger and more drastic drops in popular support than the Conservatives and NDP. This shows a major difference in the strength of each party's base. It also shows how indecisive Canada's liberals have become. Unlike NDP and Conservative support, Liberal support is not guaranteed and very flaky at best.
Unlike the Conservatives, the Liberals have declined over 20% since 2000. In 2000 the Liberals won with 40%, in 2011 they finished at under 19%. Neither the NDP or Conservatives have ever dipped 20% within a single decade.
There are things that have changed the fabric of Canada's political landscape. If the son of one of the most popular Prime Ministers cannot rejuvenate the party with his charisma, looks, and freshness...nothing can. Canada's centrist party may have been permanently damaged beyond repair. If that is true, Canada may face a polarized future with two sides and no middle. For conservatives, that would be the perfect recipe for success. For Canada, that recipe could mean a future of prosperity, economic power, and longevity.
The only event that could change that recipe would be something neither the NDP or Liberal Party has been enthusiastic about: a merger. Out of two power hungry parties with two power starved leaders, only one can rule and only one of those men can be Prime Minister. Giving that power up is something neither Trudeau or Mulcair are ready to do.
If the Conservatives win yet another majority government in 2015, a Liberal/NDP merger may be inevitable. By then it may be too late for either party to retain their current platforms as two separate agendas. A merger between Canada's two leftist parties could bring forth a brand new Conservative strategy designed to solidify the Conservative Party's dominance. By 2019, the Conservatives will have to adapt to the new political landscape created by Canada's unified left. This would likely involve new leadership and a brand new platform aimed at robbing the new "Liberal Democrats" of their support. This new platform would have to appeal to more progressive social elements within Canadian society, while still maintaining a sense of strong, fiscal conservatism and principles aimed at maintaining a small, efficient government well into the future.
In 2020, Canada will have a new Prime Minister and an opposition of entirely new faces. The likelihood of the Conservative Party maintaining a strong presence relies on the party's establishment and its ability to adapt. If the party can successfully adapt to challenge a new unified left, conservatism will thrive and successfully out-live the left, transforming Canada into one of the world's only remaining havens for freedom, small government, low taxes, and entrepreneurial wisdom.