"Statesman, yet friend to truth! of soul sincere,
In action faithful, and in honour clear;
Who broke no promise, served no private end,
Who gained no title, and who lost no friend."
J.M. Coldwell of CCF founder J.S. Woodsworth
After last night's election results, most engaged Canadians experienced shock and disbelief. Today that is replaced with profound sorrow.
When strategic voting was abandoned for some illusive big orange wave, it threw the electorate into turmoil. Many left of centre joined the NDP bandwagon, while those in the centre or just right of it, went to the Conservatives.
And all the work done by so many, blew up in our face.
How did this happen? I'm sure we'll be asking ourselves that for many months.
At a time when our very democracy was on the line, and the removal of a tyrant necessary for our survival, Jack Layton chose to once again worry about his seat count, ignoring the impact of his strategy on our country.
He gambled with Canada and lost the hand.
In 2006, when Layton handed Stephen Harper a victory, NDP insider James Laxer wrote: Fake Left, Go Right: An insider’s take on Jack Layton’s game of chance
In it he spoke of the reason why Jack Layton had aligned himself with Stephen Harper. Their shared hatred for the Liberals and the desire to destroy them. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because the NDP may have destroyed their only allies.
In the Summer of 2008, Laxer again criticized the direction of the NDP under Layton: With its exclusive fixation on winning more seats, the NDP has sacrificed the opportunity to build a truly progressive movement. On the 75th anniversary of the CCF, James Laxer argues that to save the present, we need to remember the past.
The Party was in a celebratory mood last night, but I'm sure in the light of day they are probably no longer basking in the glow of being the opposition with a Harper majority.
Last night they said they were now in a position to hold the government to account. But as Rosemary Barton asked, how can they do that when the Conservatives control Parliament? The NDP are a top dog that's been neutered. They have less power now than they did before, when there were more bodies on their side of the room.
There were some victories last night. Elizabeth May won her seat, and my own riding was held by a Liberal. And of course, while I'll miss their input, we no longer have to be held ransom by the Bloc.
But Jack Layton has a very inexperienced caucus, dominated by Quebec. This could very well shift the real power in the party to Thomas Mulcair. I like Mulcair but we have to remember that when he decided to run for a federal seat, he first considered going to the Conservatives.
And he is perhaps more pro-Israel than Harper himself.
I once hoped that Libby Davies would take over as party leader when Layton stepped down, but that seems less likely now.
So what will this do to the progressive movement, clearly abandoned by the NDP?
What will it mean for climate change, labour groups, healthcare, a national childcare plan, women's rights, a housing strategy, poverty, seniors, veterans?
James Laxer is right. Jack Layton's gamble has erased decades of progress.
The Liberals were the only other party that had the backing of the corporate sector, and now all of that money will flow to one party. Does Layton really believe that he and his ragtag group can stop the Conservatives from doing anything?
Some people ask me what I intend to do now. I am going to continue to expose the Conservatives and fight for a progressive Canada.
Sadly, I now realize that that no longer includes the NDP.
J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, are not smiling down on their party today.