As much as the other parties have been trying to paint Stephen Harper as a "right-winger" and the epitet "neo-con" is usually attached to him by NDP operatives, by comparative global standards, Canada's Conservative government is a centrist one.
Canada's socialized health care, lack of governmental desire to institute any laws restricting abortion access, its open immigration policies including a federal immigration minister who recently advocated to make it easier for Gay refugees to enter this country, all belie the notion of radical rightist ideology.
The danger of the current trend suggesting that the socialist NDP may actually be able to form the lead of a coalition party could ironically lead to Canada having a government further to the right of anything it has seen in years.
The lesson of Bob Rae's NDP government in Ontario shows how this could happen.
Rae was and is an able leader and politician. He was a three-term federal NDP MP and his party's Finance Critic before becoming leader of the Ontario NDP. He was far more capable, when he became Ontario's premier in 1990, than Jack Layton is today. Layton's only pre-commons political experience was as a long-serving, mediocre Toronto City Councillor and his leadership of the NDP has been distinguished by no tanglible result other than a recent polling popularity.
While Rae was more competent than Layton, he shared the same problem as the current federal NDP leader in that he was saddled with a caucus of inept ideologues who were incapable of effective governing. The result was so bad that the political pendulum swung drastically to the right and allowed the election of Mike Harris.
Harris was a conservative and a terrible leader for Ontario. His "Common Sense Revolution" was a sham. His promises to lower provincial taxes were only kept by offloading services to the municipalities, necessitating tax increases at that level. Harris' contempt of democracy was such that he forced amalgamation on municipalities that overwhelmingly rejected it in referendums.
Harris was a cynical, smart politician who knew he could keep a majority by exploiting and neglecting urban constituencies in order to keep rural ones happy. He was a poor leader for Ontario. But his poor leadership would never have come to pass had it not been for the protest vote gone wild that allowed Rae's NDP to create conditions allowing for Harris to succeed him.
Centrist Liberal voters should keep this analogy well in mind on May 2 when they go to the polls.
Layton's NDP includes incompetents and buffoons at the top of the party, including Deputy Leader Libby Davies, who is a 9-11 conspiracy theorist, as well as Joe Comartin, who is a George Galloway acolyte and associates with radical Imam Zafar Bangash, an admirer of the totalitarian Ayatollah Khomeini.
An NDP government would create economic disaster for Canada that would eventually and inevitably swing the national pendulum so far to the right that it will make Stephen Harper look like Stephane Dion.
Michael Ignatieff may be a bright academic, but as a politician he is hopeless. If centrists want to prevent a real right-wing government from coming to power in Canada, their only choice is to vote for the the centrist Conservatives that are in place now.