Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Editorial: Feelin' blue
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 25 Jan 2006, p. 6

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If there is a lesson to be learned-- by all politicians-- from Monday's federal election results it is this: Do not take the electorate for granted. In a sharp rebuke to Paul Martin's leadership (or lack of) and 13 years of Liberal rule, Canadian voters elected a minority Conservative government. While not the blue wave of change Tories had hoped for, it was at least a ripple. The fact Harper was able to bring Conservatives to power barely two years after riding shotgun on a merger between Reformers and Conservatives, and only 18 months after an election defeat, is nothing short of remarkable. Of course, he had plenty of help-- mostly in the form of Martin and the Liberals. While Harper can be credited with doing the seemingly impossible, the same can be said for Martin. His party was in firm control of this election when it began, yet he failed to convince Canadians his party was best for the country despite a booming economy and low inflation and unemployment rates. Instead, the unfocused Grits adopted a "who cares" attitude when it came to the crucial issue of the sponsorship scandal (and other scandals), and failed to act on a number of promises during the past 18 months. They adopted an arrogance-- as if it was their right to govern and angered voters in the process. Martin and company blithely ignored signs the electorate was out for blood-- governing blood. The Liberals got off to a slow start in the campaign, stumbled repeatedly, then in the final two weeks tried to demonize the Tories (and especially Harper)-- a strategy that proved somewhat less effective than last time. This time, however, voters didn't completely buy the Liberals' message, and because they didn't, paid more attention to the Conservatives' vision for this country. While that vision is not one embraced by the majority of "progressive" voters, it is one that many on the left side of the political spectrum are at least now willing to try out. While voters gave Harper the keys to the car Monday they did so with reservations-- handing him only a minority win. How Harper and his party proceed will be interesting to watch. He promised a more centrist Conservative government and we hope he delivers-- despite obvious pressure he will face from his Western power base. While the NDP can rejoice in increasing their seat total by 10, it is a hollow victory as Jack Layton is no longer the power broker in Ottawa. A Grit-NDP tag team can no longer carry the day. Locally, Michael Chong was easily returned as the MP for Wellington-Halton Hills in a race many correctly expected to be about as close as a Toronto-Ottawa NHL match. Chong has been a good representative during the past 18 months and as we said a week ago, should merit consideration for a cabinet post within a Harper government. We congratulate him on a well-earned victory. But, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this campaign was the fact more than 70 per cent of this riding's voters exercised their democratic right. So much for a winter election not being exciting.

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25 Jan 2006
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Martin, Paul ; Harper, Stephen ; Chong, Michael ; Layton, Jack
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Editorial: Feelin' blue