The Conservatives and Liberals as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum?

By Royce Koop on Oct 4, 2008

One of the perennial criticisms of Canada's two big brokerage parties (oftentimes levelled by NDP leaders) is that they're really tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum parties: They stand for essentially the same things and govern accordingly. The 1993 federal election was supposed to have changed all that, but alot of the speculation about Harper trying to construct a moderate, centrist party raised the spectre of a return to the days of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum.

It's hard to believe that after watching the leader's debate. Particularly in the economy segment, Harper's positions were very different from the other parties and, I think, from past Conservative leaders. Could you really see Brian Mulroney saying, as Harper did, that once manufacturing jobs have been lost, they won't return? Joe Clark? Kim Campbell?

Some commentator (Paul Wells, I think) recently pointed out that many people in the media seem to think that our present Conservative Party is just the old P.C. Party come back to life following the 1993-2004 interregnum. This, of course, is not true: Most of the people with any power in the current party hail from the Reform/Alliance side of the family, not the P.C. side. The debate reminded me of this, and that the Liberal and Conservative parties, far from going back ot their tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum roles, remain ideologically distinctive.

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Narrowing of the differences, but not a return to the PC era

Interesting post, Royce. I've been thinking about this a bit after going through a lot of the research that showed the ideological polarization after 1993. I'd argue the ideological polarization has narrowed a bit. I think Harper and the CPC have been a bit more willing to intervene in the economy for political reasons than the Canadian Alliance would have been, but not to the extent that the Mulroney era PCs are. I suspect we're somewhere in between those two extremes.

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