Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From Shock and Disbelief to Profound Sorrow

"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.


  1. Emily, I fear that your freedom to expose such things will not be what it has been; and your access to the information needing to be exposed will be very much impaired. Harper cannot tolerate dissent, however modest. The online world in which it has managed to proliferate is already closely watched and interfered with by his paid minions. It is but a short step from there to putting a gate across it.

  2. i agree Emily, very well summarized. I want to thank you for all of your work .You have made a big difference . I am middle aged and I was unaware for alot of those years. I was interested in USA politics before Canada. ( the daily show was my introduction)You and a few groups like CRUSH and a couple local groups kept me engaged , interested and I learned so much. So even though I feel like we elected Dick Cheney even though we had the information to know better I am still hopeful with people like you working on behalf of canada.

  3. I can think of a few positives:

    1. Imagine being Laureen Harper and having to go through another four years pretending to be content as Harper's wife. That would kill me if I had to do that. So I'm glad I'm not her.

    2. Harper will be left holding the bag when the housing busts along with the economy in general. He'll be left with egg on his face and everyone will blame him for the massive huge economic mess. That will be sweet.

    3. We have lots of lessons (and time) to figure out how to make us stronger for the next election.

    4. Maybe Harper's unelected backroom goons will return on the internet taps in my neighbourhood?

    Peace Sister

  4. Thanks guys. I know part of Harper's omnibus bill includes internet spying. But I won't let that frighten me. Civil disobedience is our only option now.

  5. Mulcair is now in his third party (Alliance Québec, provincial Liberals and now NDP).

    This guy is going to stand up for French after fighting against it for years?

    Mulcair's loyalty is first and foremost to Mulcair.

    The country is now even more polarized than it was. Quebec is once again being extremely different from the rest of Canada. We'll see how sincere the NDP will be towards Quebec. I am expecting the worst.

    May's victory has been extremely costly. The GPC might not survive if Harper does cut party subsidies. The Liberals might very well disappear. Ignatieff's resignation is a mistake. A big one. If Trudeau becomes leader, you can forget the LPC. And I cannot vote for that guy. Inexperienced and very, very, very vain.

  6. 5.

    repost from SeanWestwoodstandard 2011/05/03
    at 9:13 AM ET

    Eeven if harper didnt get his votes, he just would have cheated anyway


  7. According to Fair Vote Canada (www.fairvote.ca) Harper "won 54.22% of the seats with only 39.62% of the votes, one of the least legitimate majorities in Canadian history." I wonder if it isn't time to focus on changing the election system so that everyone's vote will count.

  8. I think I would support Dominic LeBlanc. I like Bob Rae but we saw what Harper did, bringing up his time when premier of Ontario.

  9. Emily - It would be interesting to read your opinions concerning the next Liberal leader. Who do you think it should it - or could be - and why?

    Thanks for all of your hard work.

  10. Emily thank you for articulating so very well what I am feeling. I am pretty sure we are being monitored, but I don't really care. My life is a lot shorter than some of the sprats on the internet, anyway, so I probably won't see Harper's defeat, but I intend to fight for it. Thank you for all your hard work. You are a light and an inspiration. Regards, Sylvia.

  11. Thanks guys. Right now I'm thinking Dominic LeBlanc. I can find no baggage. I like Bob Rae but we know that Harper will use his time as premier of Ontario to paint him as incompetent.

    But here's one I'll throw out there. What about Elizabeth May? The Green Party is not left-wing but centre. She might be able to ground the Liberal party in a merger.

    It's just a thought.

    It needs to be someone fresh because we know the attack ads will start the moment they become leader.

  12. Thank you Emily for all your hard work to educate those of us who, up until a year or two ago, were not engaged in politics. Early this morning, I was very disheartened with the results. I hope you will continue with your most informative blogs. They have been a great educational tool in which I have passed on to my 20 and 22 year old to read. Time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep fighting the good fight. Canada is worth it! I will not be happy until Harper is gone.

  13. Thank you Peggy. I plan to continue.

  14. Emily, I am beyond shock. I am devastated. I don't know how I can continue to live in Alberta if I burst into tears every time I see an Albertan. I can't go home to BC because my husband works in Alberta. I want to run away, maybe go to England where my best friend and her husband are going to retire on a canal boat.
    I haven't turned on the TV, but enough people have e-mailed me so that I know the results, the devastating results.
    Thanks for being there, Em. You've been great, and I hope the Harper police state doesn't have you thrown into a non-prison-farm prison for exercising your right to free speech.

  15. I'm not afraid of them. Maybe I should be but if I quit now then they've really won.