Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thinking Twice: Why a Conservative-NDP Alliance Would be Bad for Canada

With all the fabricated hype of a Jackomania and NDP surge, the reality is that the NDP will gain few seats. As 308 reminds us: "more than half of the NDP's boost in support is located in Quebec. But according to their own people in the province, they don't have a local organization worth its salt in more than six or eight ridings."

I've already posted on the people running for the NDP in that province and I don't see any gains. In fact, if some of them did get in, they might be worse than the Conservatives.

And in Ontario:
Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, also said polling has been mostly stagnant. With the exception of Mr. Layton in Quebec [margin of error 6.4], polling shows the Conservatives still dominate in the Prairies, and the Liberals have been holding steady in Ontario after initial Tory gains.
The only thing this faux news story might do is pull support from the other left parties, giving Harper his majority.

And Jack Layton is clearly running to be the leader of the Opposition in a Conservative government. But is that what's best for our country?

I posted last week of how Harper's National Citizens Coalition had helped to engineer a stunning victory for Ed Broadbent back in the day, but it was at the expense of the Liberals. And with a Conservative Majority under Brian Mulroney, the NDP accomplished little. We got the GST and the job killing Free Trade. But in 1988 it could have been avoided:
In the early days of the contest, the Conservatives topped the polls. In a televised leaders’ debate, however, Turner scored a powerful hit by warning Canadians of the consequences of Mulroney’s trade deal. “With one signature of a pen,” Turner thundered at Mulroney, “you’ve thrown us into the north-south influence of the United States and will reduce us, I am sure, to a colony of the United States.” The impact was immediate. The Liberals, having seized an issue that was at least as dear to the hearts of left-wing progressives, took the lead in the polls.

It was a moment of truth for business, labour, social movements, and for the ndp. Rather than joining the Liberals and other nationalists in a full frontal assault against free trade, the ndp reprised its 1984 election strategy, turned its guns on Turner (who was not even in office), and declared that there was no real difference between Grits and Tories. Those running the ndp campaign decided that what mattered most was the party’s seat total and its vote share relative to the Liberals’, not the fight for economic sovereignty.
When I first learned that Layton was going to change strategy and start attacking Michael Ignatieff, I started to really worry. It was 1988 all over again.

Broadbent got his 43 seats and Canadians got the shaft. According to James Laxer, in "Fake Left, Go Right": "Mulroney salvaged his free trade agreement, which took effect on January 1, 1989. To this day, we are witnessing the legacy of this deal in the softwood lumber dispute and other disagreements that bring into question Canada’s right to subsidize Crown and private corporations, and to use other instruments of state economic intervention."

In 2004 Layton tried a repeat performance. Instead of warning Canadians about the dangers of a Harper victory, he went after the Liberals. Many progressives were concerned because they knew how devastating a Stephen Harper victory could be.

So they started a "Think Twice" campaign, to do what Layton and the NDP refused to.
Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, for one, told me that she felt pressure “not to critique Harper,” and that the top priority was “to win more seats for the ndp.” During the election, the Council was involved in the Think Twice coalition, made up of groups that came together to warn Canadians about Stephen Harper’s record. “If the ndp was not going to talk about Harper’s record,” Barlow said, “we felt we had to.”

The ndp and the wider progressive community are divided over whether it really matters if a Stephen Harper or a Paul Martin is in power. The standard party answer during the election campaign was a flat no, a position Maude Barlow couldn’t agree with.
Some things are more important than party politics, or at least they should be.

Layton, again teamed up with Harper in 2006 and where did it get him? What has he accomplished that he set out to accomplish in his political life? Nothing.

As Laxer says of the Harper-Layton team:
Child-care advocates are, in turn, furious at the ndp for its electoral tactics. Immediately after Harper was sworn into office, and after Layton announced that he could work with the Conservative government, the new prime minister made good on his promise to scrap the Liberals’ national child-care program. Harper will cancel the agreements with the provinces after the minimum one-year notice period, meaning they will lapse on March 31, 2007. The deals the Liberals had negotiated would have provided an average of $1 billion annually for five years to create spaces, hire staff, and make existing provincial child-care programs more affordable and accessible to all families.

Martha Friendly, the coordinator of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit at the University of Toronto, told me, the implementation of the child-care agenda was “considerably less advanced than it could have been several months further down the road.” Friendly has worked for three decades in pursuit of a universal, not-for-profit, early child-care program of the kind that exists in western Europe. ...While child-care advocates have fight left in them, Friendly says the Conservative victory has put the quest for a universal not-for-profit system on hold.
30 years to get a childcare plan, and Layton squashed it. Five years to hammer out the Kelowna Accord, and Layton-Harper squashed it.

The big issue this election is our democracy. With so many people working so hard, a progressive revolution was within our grasp. But now, any NDP gains, if indeed there are any, will not be at the expense of the Conservatives, nor will they move us an inch closer to restoring democracy.

Like Harper, Layton has put party and power above everything else.

At this stage of the game, I thought I could just continue reminding Canadians why Harper had to go. I never thought in a million years that I would have to start going after the NDP. I thought they were on our side.

NDP tweets now are almost all about Ignatieff and they are even going after Avaaz, questioning it's legitimacy, after they sued to have G-8 documents released. The same G-8 documents that the NDP helped the Conservatives suppress.

How incredibly sad.

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