Greetings from north of the 49th parallel. As you down there in America are looking more and more like you are about to make a drastic change in your national political landscape in the next presidential election by switching from the arch-conservative to the liberal, we here in the land of igloos and ice-hockey are poised on our own cusp. On October 14th Canadians will head to the polls to choose our next Prime Minister, and there is a chance that we could be electing our first ever really conservative government.
In the past a party that called itself the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada has formed governments, and while they might have been what some people in Canada would have considered fiscally conservative, they have always been far more liberal socially than even the most liberal of Democrats in the United States. It was a Progressive Conservative Prime Minister in the 1960s who instituted our system of universal Medicare after all, something that very few politicians of any stripe in the States dare to even talk about, let alone implement.
The party calling itself the Conservative Party of Canada under the leadership of Steven Harper won the most seats in our House of Parliament in our last election, but failed to win enough to have the outright majority required to rule uncontested and do whatever they wanted. What they want to do is remake Canada in the image of George Bush's America - somewhere safe for God-fearing, white, heterosexual Christians who want to profit at the expense of others. In the two years they've had a minority government they have managed to scrap Canada's commitment to the Kyoto Accord, rescind The Kelowna Accord (legislation that the previous government, the provinces and native leaders had negotiated that would have given native Canadians a chance to dig out from under years of poverty), cut 50 million dollars in funding to the arts, divert funding from HIV/AIDS prevention programs, extend and expand Canada's military mission in Afghanistan against the wishes of the majority of Canadians, increase military spending, and cut funds to social programs for women and children.
Of course there are some things they have failed to do; rescinding the legalization of same sex marriages, instituting legislation that would have given people the right to discriminate against others on the basis of sexuality, and closing North America's only safe injection facility, Insite. In each case it wasn't any of the opposition parties in the House of Commons who prevented them from enacting these pieces of legislation, but the courts upholding the constitution and Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.