Both Canada and the United States have completed general elections this fall, but this is where the similarities end. The Harper government is currently embroiled in a political crisis which could culminate in a new election as early as this winter should the opposition vote against the proposed budget scheduled for January 27. The coalition may appear poised to become the next governement, but don’t bet on it. Should they show a willingness to compromise and adopt a policy of cohabitation with one or more of the opposition parties, the Harper Conservatives may yet survive. The decision by Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue the House should allow for cooler heads to prevail. Tories should extend the hand of cooperation and compromise and the Liberals should carefully reassess their current course which is perilous at best. All in all, with an economic crisis in the making, our political leaders have not taken charge—and Canadians are worried and disappointed.
Contrast this with president-elect Barack Obama’s emerging administration. Obama has continued to display the cool and calm temperament that characterized his campaign. He has assembled a group reminiscent of Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals” and Kennedy’s “Best and the Brightest.” In the process, Obama has impressed by his poise and gained much favor with the American people. The choice of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, the decision to keep Bob Gates as defense secretary, and the naming Bill Richardson as commerce secretary are illustrations of a smooth and seemingly productive change of government. Unlike the Canadian example, Obama’s is a clear model of taking charge.
With the holiday season approaching, the Conservative goverment and the opposition parties will hopefully find their way by January 27, when the Canadian people will need to come first. Our politicians would be well advised to look south. Obama has shown with aplomb and poise what it means to take charge. Makes you envious, doesn’t it?