Some things I believe:
1. Canada's left consists not of the NDP and no one else, as Jack Layton would have us believe, and not of the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens, as Jason Townsend would have us believe, but of the NDP, a few Liberals, and some Greens. This complicates matters beyond the quick fix many leftists (of whatever stripe) are looking for.
2. The potential future in government of voices from Canada's left (as defined above) depends not on the NDP snuffing out the Liberals, as Pat Martin would have us believe, and not on the Liberals snuffing out the NDP, as Jason Cherniak would have us believe, and not on the NDP snuffing out the Greens, as Duncan Cameron would have us believe, but on learning how to find common ground within our political diversity. This complicates matters even further.
3. The best model for finding common ground isn't forming a "big tent" party, as John Ryan would have us believe, but allowing for diversity of opinion and separate political identities within temporary government coalitions. These temporary coalitions wouldn't look like the Liberal-NDP cooperation within 2005's Liberal minority government, but like coalition governments as they tend to exist in European parliaments such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. This model would require a change in our political culture to make it less antagonistic and more cooperative, and the surest and best way to precipitate this change would be the implementation of some form of proportional representation on the federal level.
4. The very best thing for Canada's left would be the election this fall of a Liberal leader who agrees with me about 1-3. That leader wouldn't even have to be a leftist himself, but someone who sees value in the left and is respectful of different political opinions. Unfortunately, there seems to be no one like that in the race. (For a short time I thought Gerard Kennedy might be that guy, but he isn't.)
5. Having leftist voices in government is a good goal, but having genuine leftist voices (rather than a whole slew of centrists in leftist clothing) on the federal scene at all is still more important in the long run. If--for whatever reason--this can't work out in the way I outline above, we can't let that failure lead us to succumb to the siren song of the big tent. Many laws and policies we take for granted today began as wild ideas from the left, and any big tent (whether it's called the Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party of Canada, or the Liberal Democrats of Canada) would lead to the marginalization and silencing of leftist voices. Without real leftists on the federal scene, no one would ever come to realize that many of those so-called wild ideas are actually practical and implementable. This, above all other reasons, is why I am a member of the NDP.
6. A lot of people of all political stripes think 1-5 contradict each other. These people are wrong.
Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Some things I believe: