Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Party dividedness again

That weird Canadian "your party is divided, ha ha" argument is raising its ugly head again, this time with respect to the NDP. Yes, MPs Peter Stouffer and Pat Martin take positions rather different from the party line (and, it should be said, different from each other) on Afghanistan. I'll ask the same question I asked when this came up about the Liberals: why, exactly, is this supposed to be a problem? What I see in the NDP is a party that demands unanimity when it comes to an actual vote on a matter of Charter rights, but doesn't do so when it comes to a foreign policy issue that's still being hotly debated. This is a positive thing, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Judging from some of the defensive comments over at A BCer in Toronto's post, though, I may be in the minority in looking at it this way. "If you still support the NDP," one commenter says, "you should be clear on this issue, and don't give the Liberals ammunition." Why should admitting the existence of caucus members that dissent from the majority once in a while be seen as a weakness? I'm sorry, but that's just plain silly. Party caucuses consist of people from extremely varying backgrounds who all live and breathe politics. It would be ridiculous to expect them to agree about everything all the time.

I'm afraid this may be an aspect of Canadian political culture I'll never quite understand.


Mike said...

Notice those of us in disagreement with the Party line ignored that odd piece of advice.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Well, yes, but your instant reaction to hearing that you have a different opinion from the resolution passed at the convention was to say that you weren't sure you belonged in the NDP anymore. What on earth? You take a different position on one issue, and suddenly that's going to take precedence over all the things you do agree about? I mean, I realize I grew up in a political culture where dissent within parties is much more commonplace, but I just don't get it.

Jeff said...

The main gist of my post wasn't that I thought it was a problem. Of course people in a party, and in a caucus, have different views on things. That's healthy. Frankly, the Conservative hive mind thing creeps me out.

My point was just that, given the differing opinions in the NDP caucus, it's beyond silly/opportunistic/yada yada for Jack to be attacking the Liberals for being divided on this issue. 'Twas the inconsistency that annoyed me is all.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

BCer in TO,

Understood. As my older post attests, I didn't get it when it was about the Liberals, either.

Sarah O. said...

Gah! This is an older post and all, but I must (for the sake of my 4 miserable years in J-school) correct you on some spelling - it's "Stoffer," not "Stouffer", unless you're trying to make a strange pun on his name.

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit I live in his riding. But that is also why I know his name.