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Editor’s Comment: Will Liberals Heed Their Warning?

What was supposed to have been the closest federal election in a generation turned out to be little more than another cakewalk for the Liberal government, although this time they failed to secure a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.



What was supposed to have been the closest federal election in a generation turned out to be little more than another cakewalk for the Liberal government, although this time they failed to secure a majority of the seats in the House of Commons.

There are many questions arising from a minority Liberal government. Will they edge closer to the left and work alongside the somewhat resurgent NDP and the lone independent candidate to form a quasi-majority government? Will the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois be able to chip away at an unstable government and eventually force them into an early election? Perhaps the most important question is, will the Liberals take their diminishing support as a warning sign from Canadians that they must do a better job managing taxpayers’ money and avoiding the types of scandals they have become known for?

One point that was reinforced on election night was that Canada is clearly a country divided. The Bloc had its strongest showing ever in Quebec. The Liberals still dominated Ontario. And much of the west – particularly Alberta – was awash in Conservative blue.

While the election failed to live up to expectations of a neck-to-neck battle between the Conservatives and Liberals, there were many individual battles that went down to the wire.

NDP leader Jack Layton riled up many in the trucking industry with comments he made on Canada AM that were seen as anti-truck. For much of the night, Layton was in a dogfight with Liberal Dennis Mills. In the end, however, it was Layton who emerged as the winner, avoiding a potentially embarrassing defeat.

Federal transport minister Tony Valeri was also engaged in a close battle for much of the evening. Valeri was in tough in his Hamilton East-Stoney Creek riding, possibly because much of the region decided to vote NDP rather than supporting Valeri, who replaced the locally popular Sheila Copps in the riding. Valeri has been welcomed by the trucking industry since being named the replacement of much-maligned former transport minister, David Collenette. There were likely some sighs of relief in trucking circles as Valeri managed to win his seat – by less than 1,000 votes mind you. Hopefully his win will mean some stability in the portfolio of transport minister.

Then there’s “Landslide Annie” McLellan – deputy prime minister and a Liberal whose claim to fame is winning elections by the narrowest of margins. She too squeaked out a nail biter and was one of only two Liberals to be elected in Alberta. Margin of victory: 711 votes. Homeland security is one of McLellan’s most significant responsibilities making her another key political figure for the trucking industry.

Disturbingly, voter turnout on June 28 was the lowest it has been since Confederation. It’s not always easy for professional drivers to hit the polls on Election Day, but to all of those who did, give yourself a pat on the back regardless of your political stripes. A message has been sent to Ottawa. Only time will tell if anyone there is listening. n

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at 403-275-3160 or by e-mail at jamesmenzies@shaw.ca.

– Clear Shot by Ingrid Phaneuf will return next month. Stay tuned.


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