Orthodoxy is passé. it's time to get creative. The fact that Stéphane Dion is staying on as the interim leader could be just the ticket. That is, if he and the other party leaders have the courage to step up to the plate.
The old thinking is coming so unglued, it's getting ridiculous. Take the poor neo-?cons. First, George Bush has had to beg for huge government spending and intervention (possibly, rightly so).
Now here in Canada, Stephen Harper's first words as our next prime minister signalled the possibility of running a deficit next year. In the old days that would've been heresy, and a betrayal worthy of a major media slice and dice. Not now (possibly, rightly so).
The cherished never-?were ?truisms are getting a lickin' because they don't even serve the system they built for themselves. It isn't just the other guys, though. We're in the same boat on the other side of the political spectrum.
Sure, cross-?partisan dalliance is uncomfortable. Politicos love their black-and-white belief systems. Just gaze at the opposite page to see my fervent NDP colleague froth on about the perfection of his party and the idiocy and malignance of all those who live in a more relative and critical universe. This old school hyper-partisanship never let's facts get in the way of a good argument.
In the minds of these NDP party faithful, if the most high-rolling NDP campaign in history, facing off against the weakest Liberal opponent in living memory, can't increase its popular vote by even one percentage point, it must be someone else's fault. Just ramp up the hyperbole and blame the Liberals, the Greens, voteforenvironment.ca. Yeah, right.
More hopeless, the Green party's uber-?faithful are so nuttily into their version of the Ten Commandments, including Thou shalt not be strategic, that some are calling for Elizabeth May's resignation.
May is Canada's Hillary Clinton without the man-?baggage. Her fan base extends the party's reach well into those who wouldn't even look at the Greens otherwise. They should be carrying her on their shoulders for increasing their vote by a healthy 50 per cent. Instead they're mad that she didn't increase their vote by a greedy 100 per cent and give Harper a majority in the process.
The one lucky thing is that former leadership contender and anti-?May ringleader David Chernushenko is such a fool that he actually quit over the issue, which should prove a real plus for the Greens.
Political orthodoxy has many rewards. It's great if you want your politics to be like sports events. You can love your team and its captain. And you can safely hate those other guys. They are crap. You can abuse them with insults and lies.
Trouble is, politics becomes a hopeless caricature. Let's leave that to the Comedy Network and the right.
Right now, the opposition parties and their supporters have some thinking to do. Are we all going to head into our respective corners and go nowhere, led by the nose by the Tories, or will the leaders start having meetings and talking to one another?
Isn't that the obvious next step? I'm not saying they will agree on anything, but surely the voting public that elected them has a right to know they at least had a discussion.
We live in unusual times. The old ways are proving absurdly unhelpful. The Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc and the Green party all have distinct mandates.
But there are good reasons for them to work together, too.
This is a real opportunity for Dion, who has nothing to lose, to show who he really is. Finally his weakness is his strength. He could call the other opposition leaders to a meeting of colleagues. Just a meeting. Like the premiers do.
While the Liberal party sorts itself out, Dion, working with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton (and Elizabeth May, in my perfect world) could discuss creating an interim joint government with a specific one-year agenda.
That would give the Libs time to find a new leader and pull their war chest together without keeping the country and planet waiting once again.
Anybody who saw the debate knows they make for an interesting group around a table, board or kitchen. And it could satisfy Canadians that there was a reason we had this election, so maybe we'll feel like voting next time.
Dion, as the loser, would have no need to insist on a carbon tax, so the group should have no trouble agreeing on a whack of pro-?economy job ?creation measures that foster the environment and the arts.
These are the kinds of great actions that could stimulate healthy economic momentum. Because everyone, both left and right, agrees that government spending is necessary right now, even if it means a deficit.
Don't buy into Harper's big new strength. He couldn't get a majority even though all he had stacked against him were a bunch of art lovers (especially in Quebec), democracy advocates and ecoholics.
There is a vibrant grassroots base ready to ditch Big Daddy and support real leadership - Stéphane, Jack and Gilles.
From right to left, we've come to the limits of orthodoxy. It's a luxury we can no longer afford. Now it's time to get things done.