Snap elections, government turnover and the bankruptcy of the Liberal brand

Now that we’ve all been given morsels of gossip (if not the truth, and nothing but the truth — the whole truth is still coming) from the Gomery inquiry, parliamentarians are speaking of confidence motions and snap election calls. However, is this merely the beginning of a radical shift on the Canadian political landscape?

The Liberal party will try to stop the bleeding of this recent ‘damning’ testimony from Jean Brault during the Gomery inquiry and will considering calling Canadians to the polls before we have all of the facts for evaluation. The Liberals can only hope to use the long passage of time, which would come with a majority government, to allow Canadians to forget this still developing monster of a scandal. However, at this time, the Liberals can only hope to win a minority. Given an election cycle of 35 days, the recently tempered policy foundations of the Conservative party and the current sentiment in Quebec surrounding the daily confessional of the Gomery inquiry, the Liberals stand a good chance of losing their tenuous grip on power.

Yet, one must question whether or not this signifies something even greater. Is the Liberal brand itself on the verge of electable bankruptcy? During the 2004 general election, given the limited awareness of the Canadian electorate to the details of the now apparent deep-running corruption of the Sponsorship Scandal, Prime Minister Paul Martin labeled his candidates “Team Martin” and decided to forego the Liberal brand during that election. Now, we are becoming aware of the sordid and symbiotic money laundering scheme between the Liberal Party of Canada, the Government of Canada and Montreal ad agencies. Mix in some organized crime (as reported by the New York Daily News on Nov 18, 2004) and you’ve got a powder keg that will decimate the Liberal brand in Quebec for decades.

CTV News parliamentary bureau chief Robert Fife speculated that given the lastest testimony, the Bloc could sweep Quebec. Quebeckers, it would seem, hate organized crime more than they hate Liberals. Now some might not even make that differentiation.

Will these connections to organized crime and revelations of kickbacks to all levels of the Liberal Party organization cause its membership, staff and members of Parliaments (of which many are indeed innocent) to question the personal value of retaining membership in this corrupt and criminal organization? It must have been difficult enough being a member of an organization without any principled direction concerning policy, but to learn now that this organization is actually criminal may be too high of a personal price for many.

Will Canadians then have any tolerance for companies that are even perceived to be Liberal friendly? Would these companies risk association with the Liberal party for fear that Canadians may parallel them with Montreal ad firms? Will the Liberal party become the new pariah of Canadian politics?

The Liberals can call their election, they can even win another minority government. Conservatives just want Canadians to get all of the facts and they will with time. When that time comes, the government will fall and the destruction of the Liberal brand will be complete.