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John J. Conway, Master of Leverett House last night analyzed the present dilemma of Canada's major parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, stressing historical factors influencing their development.
Conway began his discussion by explaining that the Government, under the leadership of prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker, was "tottering to its natural end" when a U.S. State Department note on nuclear policy precipitated the fall of the House of Commons.
Because of the age-old influence of the United States on Canadian polities, Conway contrasted the development of the two systems. "The United States," said Conway, "was an expression in the New World of the Liberal-Whig tradition in British politics, whereas Canada expressed the Conservative-Tory strain."
The Dominion of Canada was created in 1867 for two important reasons. "The first," explained Conway, "was the immense biological and cultural persistence of the French and the second was the English-Canadian reaction to the principles on which the America republic was founded." Thus, a deep anti-Americanism and a strong pro-Empire consciousness existed in Canada from its infancy.
With the disappearance of the British Commonwealth and the ever increasing cultural, political and economic influence of the United States, Canada has today lost her identity and independence, Conway continued. Her wartime role as "honest broker between the United States and Great Britain" has also vanished.
The Conservative Party, which formerly based its appeal on close ties with the British Commonwealth and a high protective tariff against the United States, must now redefine its position, according to Conway. So too the Liberal Party, which prided itself on its "understanding of the Canadian role in North America.'
The current confusion of the major parties lies mainly in the fact that the postulates on which they based their own and Canada's identities have slipped away. Their role is to redefine their position and that of their country in the coming years. Conway said that the coming election will not solve the problem, and stated that the needed vital thinking will only come in the next decade when the new generation injects fresh blood into the presently indecisive political parties.
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