These days, the most striking differences between Canadaâ€™s two main parties centre on matters such as the future of the gun registry, the public funding of sports facilities or the rate of taxation of corporate Canada.
On the larger issues, the line between the two is blurred, when it exists at all. Earlier this week, pollster Frank Graves suggested that the Liberals and the Conservatives could be natural partners in a coalition and he was not speaking totally in jest.
One could argue that there were more major policy differences between the Tories and the Canadian Alliance prior to their 2003 merger than there are between todayâ€™s Liberals and Conservatives.
Today, with a diminished journalistic workforce on Parliament Hill, handling multiple deadlines and shrinking news space, it’s harder to keep any story in the frame of attention, let alone a dry, complicated fiscal debate. Note the revolving controversies of the past few years. Remember the Afghan-documents issue? Prorogation? We’re also told that the public has no interest now in "process" stories — which pretty much describes most political stories. I’m old enough to remember a time when I covered a story for months at a time — years, in the case of the national-unity struggles of Meech and Charlottetown. Now that prospect seems almost ridiculous.
The panel didnâ€™t think very much of it but think they missed the point. They said that the financial crisis isnâ€™t bad enough in peopleâ€™s minds to require this kind of arrangement again. In some ways they are correct as Canada has a very strong economy compared to the rest of the western world right now. At the same time they missed the point in that with cuts to Parliament Hill, they arenâ€™t sure what we stories they are missing. Of course I didnâ€™t expect Chantel Hebert or Andrew Coyne to admit that because of cuts in the media and a quicker, more intense news cycle that her and her colleagues are missing important stories but the truth is, they donâ€™t really know what they are missing.