Canada at Risk

An editorial yesterday misspelled the names of two Canadian political party leaders. The leader of the Reform Party is Preston Manning. The leader of the New Democrats is Audrey McLaughlin.

The Sun regrets the errors.


No majority of the 295 seats in the House of Commons is expected to emerge from the federal election in Canada Monday. More's the pity. The Liberal Party, which championed a bilingual, multi-cultural Canada during the prime ministry of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s, is poised to return under the less charismatic Jean Chretien. But there is little likelihood of its winning seats in every province or a majority of the House of

Commons. It is more likely to form a weak minority government or coalition with a party diametrically opposed to it on key issues.


Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who electrified North America on taking over from Brian Mulroney in June, has been a dud as campaigner. Her Conservative Party is going out of power and is not guaranteed second place or even third. Also sinking is the traditional leftist third party, the New Democrats, led by Audrey McGlaughlin.

The two new parties that have taken over the Canadian imagination and are contesting with the Liberals for national leadership are both regional. The Reform Party, founded by Preston Manwaring in Alberta, is grabbing hold of the West and making inroads in Ontario. It wants to slash waste, cut taxes, reduce welfare and dump politicians -- shades of Ross Perot -- and quit worrying about the feelings of Quebecers.

The Bloc Quebecois was founded by an old Conservative, Lucien Bouchard, as a counterpart in federal elections to the Parti Quebecois of Jacques Parizeau in provincial politics. They want to come to power in Quebec next year, hold a plebiscite and take Quebec to sovereignty in 1995. The words independence and separatism are not used. Sovereignty has a softer ring. They want sovereign Quebec to have an economic affiliation with English-speaking Canada, which would not be sympathetic and would need to be consulted.

The one politician who believes wholeheartedly in government as a force for good and in federal Canada -- Mr. Chretien -- will probably come out of this election as prime minister, but without a majority in parliament or mandate in the country. Of the two parties with the potential to be a coalition partner, one is opposed to federal Canada and the other to powerful government.

What Canada really needs is a majority government dedicated to federalism. If the polls are to be believed, that is too much to hope for.