The election post-mortems were far more critical of ex-prime minister Paul Martin than anything the Tories had to offer during their campaign. This may have been due to the fact that there is little point in torpedoing a ship that is already sinking on its own. After all, Judge Gomery had told Canadians that they witnessed a catastrophic failure of the very systems that were designed to protect the public from political abuse.

Listen to the words of award-winning author Harry Bruce: “(Martin) was unconvincing, unfocused, inconsistent, indecisive and crassly exploitive of Canadians’ deep-seated anti-Americanism.” No less vehement was an editorial in the Washington Post, stating that the election “put an end to 12 years of increasingly incoherent and corrupt rule by the Liberal party – as well as the cynical and irresponsible attempt of its leader, outgoing prime minister Paul Martin, to use anti-Americanism.” On and on read the epitaphs of a “failed scaremonger” and “jingoist.”

Such post-mortems for Paul Martin resemble what usually applies to the dead – “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” (Of the dead be nothing said but what is good) – but in its opposite form – De mortuis nil nisi malum” (Of the dead be nothing said but what is bad).

The so-called “new Canada” is the brainchild of Pierre Trudeau and the Liberal party. The very word “liberal” was intoxicating for many and connoted a world of new freedoms, rights and justice for all. But in the hands of politicians of dubious moral integrity or philosophical sensitivity, the word decayed and came to mean anything that is untraditional, unconventional and un-American. The Liberal party thus took a reactive posture and, in its enthusiasm to be different, welcomed easier divorce, abortion on demand, hardcore pornography, same-sex “marriage,” legalized public orgies, the lowest age of consent in the world and now, knocking of the door, polygamy. This is hardly a legacy that engenders national pride. John O’Sullivan, a columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, has stated that incoming Prime Minister Stephen Harper “is inviting the modern Canadian to take the first small steps back to self-reliance and national pride.”

Moreover, as the “Liberal” party ushered in new levels of licentiousness that past traditions had been wise enough to prohibit, a new intolerance toward decent people – Christians, pro-lifers, marriage traditionalists – began to develop. Perhaps it was a growing awareness of the latter that was decisive in turning the political tide away from the “liberals” and toward a party that was a little more traditional, conventional and less anti-American. The party that was reacting by first looking at what others did and then doing the opposite, inevitably had to yield to the party that was responsive to human needs and real national interests, even though that had been done before.

Authentic liberalism must always be linked to life. Back in 1978, and in anticipation of the United Nations Year of the Child the following year, Jake Epp, a Progressive Conservative MP from Manitoba, asked for a review of the abortion law. Epp wanted Canada to honour the greatest gift for everyone, “namely the gift of life.” Prime Minister Trudeau flatly rejected Epp’s request, saying that, “It’s not up to the government to give the gift of life. This is up to God and to the parents.”

The prime minister’s remark is a textbook example of bad logic – the fallacy of ignoring the issue – and illustrating it on two separate levels simultaneously. The issue is not about who gives life. No one in the world believes that the government bestows such a great and glorious gift. Secondly, the abortion issue centres not on the giving but the taking of life. And concerning the latter, the Canadian government was most certainly an accomplice.

Trudeau exemplified a liberalism that was already in decay. He ignored the central issue of the life of the unborn and, consequently, justice for all, while hoodwinking the public into thinking that his brand of liberalism gave them something better. Liberalism of this sort, however, did incalculably more to liberate people from a sense of morality than it did to help establish a “just society.”

This distorted notion of justice reached its apogee when prime minister Martin looked not to justice in deciding about legislating same-sex “marriage,” but to width! He stated that as a legislator, “what I’ve got to do is take the widest perspective possible.” Such a legislative framework of “width” logically accommodates polygamy and incest. That is the simple consequence of his geometry. But geometry is not justice.

Perhaps the new government will find something worth preserving from the wisdom of the past. Perhaps it will begin to recover the true meaning of “liberal” – to be free from ignorance, deception and oppression so that one is better able to achieve authentic self-realization. We can always hope.

Donald DeMarco, a regular contributor to The Interim and author of numerous books, the most recent being Architects of the Culture of Death. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont. and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.