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    • Politics Series: Power
      (Previous: Economy) (Introduction and Table of Contents) We have seen that who gets how much of what is a political decision: that the economy and economics is downstream from politics. Power is the ability to make people do what you want, or not do what you don’t want. Ideology determines what the good life is and power determines who lives it. All politica […]
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Sunday: Follow the North Star

Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party in Canada

Ian Welsh has a good post today about the emergence of the New Democratic Party as a serious player in Canadian politics.  It seems that the Canadians have been paying attention to what’s happening to their neighbors to the south and realize that their way of life may be in jeopardy if they keep electing Conservative and Liberal party politicians.  Sounds like the Conservatives and Liberal parties are akin to our Republicans and Democrats.

From Ian’s post On The NDP Surge in Canada:

If the Conservatives get a minority government, odds are the NDP will be the official opposition party.  Layton will be a far more effective opposition leader than Ignatieff.  And Ignatieff’s days as Liberal leader will soon be over, the Liberals will turf him, as being third party is a complete and absolute disaster for them.  The Liberals and Conservatives have traded being the government of Canada back and forth for as long as Canada has existed.

If Layton does do a good job, he might be able to cement the NDP as the second party in Canada, and if he does that, eventually the NDP will be the government.  That’s a big deal, because the Liberals are essentially centrists.  They campaign slightly left, rule slightly right, and are certainly neo-liberal friendly.  I say this as someone who actually has a lot of respect for the government of Chretien and Paul Martin.  They did a good job overall and managed a period when Canada had to kiss America’s ass very well.  Chretien, in particular, is due a lot of credit for telling Bush to fuck off when Bush tried to coerce Canada into joining the Iraq war, as that took a lot of guts from a Canadian PM, and was clearly the right thing to do.

What does this mean for the rest of the world? Canada was one of the first nations to go to a right wing government.  Through the 2000′s there has been a wave of right wing governments in the West.  The NDP doing this well might be a sign that things are beginning to turn.  Again, the NDP aren’t the wimpy left, they are actually socialists, not a party like Labor in Britain, which is clearly right wing, just not as right wing as the nutbar Conservatives.

How good a government Layton would run I don’t know. I don’t have a good feel for the wonks behind him, or for how strong a leader he’d be.  Nonetheless I am confident that of the possibilities, he’s the best man for the job.  Ignatieff is a weasel, and no one who has apologized for torture should be in charge of anything, anywhere, while Harper is a conservative ideologue who thinks that Canada should be more like the US, as well as being an autocrat who spits over Canada’s democratic and parliamentary traditions.  The sooner he retires, the better.

The outcome is still uncertain.  Heck, it’s even possible the Liberals could come back into second place, or that the Conservatives could surge.  The polls are all over the place, as noted, and this has been a very volatile election.  Someone could put their foot in it.  But still, for the first time in a long time, I am actually seeing some hope for the future.  Canada, amongst countries in the world, is uniquely positioned to ride out the next couple decades.  We have everything we need to do really well, to be one of the most prosperous and free nations in the world.  But doing so requires a course change that will never happen under the Conservatives and is unlikely to happen under the Liberals.  The NDP are the best chance, not a sure thing, but a decent chance.  So here’s praying they keep surging.

So, I don’t know all the layers of Canadian politics but I gather that even God doesn’t have as much power in Canada as the Canadian Prime Minister.  Currently, the Prime Minister is Steven Harper, analogous to George Bush in the kind of energy rich, rural, low taxes support he is getting.  The current government is a minority coalition(?) but it looks like the NDP party, which runs towards the socialist end of the spectrum, is picking up a lot of support in the upcoming elections, bi-passing the Liberals.  It sounds like Canadians are getting wise to the utter fecklessness of their Democratic Liberal party.  Too much compromising with the Conservatives, perhaps?  An excess of “everything on the table” negotiating?  The Bloc Quebecois is getting savvy to the Conservative’s desired monopoly on energy resources?

I dunno.  I’m not Canadian but they sound like they have woken up and smelled the coffee and don’t much like where it’s coming from. Maybe it’s because Canadians were late to the Fox News empire.  Canada only got the lying channel for the rich in 2004. (and wouldn’t you know it, Harper became Prime Minister in 2006.  Hmmm…)  But if the NDP is surging, Canadians must not be as saturated in the movement conservative propaganda yet.  We could learn a lot from them.

And if Canadians will take it from some burned Americans we recommend that you stop watching cable news programs, particularly Fox and turn off talk radio. That is, unless you *like* the idea of losing your social safety net bit by bit.

If Americans ever want to get their mojo back, it’s going to take a party much more to the left than we have now to win some elections.  Yep, we need a New Democratic Party to carve out some support from the Democrats and drag them back over the center line just like the Tea Party is carving out support from the Republicans and dragging them over to the extreme right.  Even with an American version of the NDP, we are never going to go as left as France.  But Canada?  I could sign on to a Canadian style political left with substantial social safety net features and a working health care system.  Now, if we could only get Bernie Sanders to start a New Democratic Party here in the US…

Here’s the platform for the New Democratic Party of Canada.

{{sob!}}  I wish *I* were Canadian.

18 Responses

  1. The only thing that troubles me about the NDP website is that it resembles the DailyKos theme or orange and gray.
    Otherwise, there’s nothing nutty about the platform. It looks pretty fricking reasonable and without a lot of the flowery kumbaya, birkenstock wearing, volvo driving, macrobiotic granola, vegan, lunacy so typical of American lefty rhetoric. It seems to be targeted to working people not a bunch of aspirational creative class types.
    Of course, he could be the antichrist but he’s certainly tuned into the zeitgeist.

  2. I like this stuff:
    5.14 Ensuring all Canadians Have Access to Broadband and a Robust Digital Economy
    We will apply the proceeds from the advanced wireless spectrum auction to ensure all Canadians, no matter where they live, will have quality high-speed broadband internet access;
    We will expect the major internet carriers to contribute financially to this goal;
    We will rescind the 2006 Conservative industry-oriented directive to the CRTC and direct the regulator to stand up for the public interest, not just the major telecommunications companies;
    We will enshrine “net neutrality” in law, end price gouging and “net throttling,” with clear rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), enforced by the CRTC;
    We will prohibit all forms of usage-based billing (UBB) by Internet Service Providers (ISPs);
    We will introduce a bill on copyright reform to ensure that Canada complies with its international treaty obligations, while balancing consumers’ and creators’ rights.

    • You folks sound like you never read the New Democratic Credo and then somehow missed the Gaming of the DNC’s Primary Rules by their own rules and bylaws committee….One would think that the Burn ’em and Learn ’em PUMAs would take a “We’ll believe it when we see it” attitude towards this vote-harvesting poetry.

      • They’re not the Conservative or Liberal party, who apparently have been in control. Their surge in The pools indu ares something différent.
        However, I’m not crazy about the kos like scheme. So, no, I haven’t completely lost my mind. It could be a ruse.

        • Damn, I wish the kid would stop experimenting with international keyboards.

  3. And THIS:
    5.12 Moving Forward on Women’s Equality
    We will reverse Stephen Harper’s attacks on pay equity and immediately implement the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force to establish a pro-active pay equity regime enshrined in law;
    We will work with provinces and territories to expand access to shelter and transition houses to support women fleeing violence;
    We will support a coordinated federal response to violence against Aboriginal women, led by Aboriginal communities, and including the ongoing funding of Aboriginal women’s organizations;
    We will improve Employment Insurance qualification criteria to ensure that those receiving parental leave benefits see no change in their eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits;
    We will provide a more flexible and generous Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit to permit family members to take up to six months leave from work to tend to relatives near the end of their lives, up from the current six weeks;
    We will introduce a new Caregiver Benefit, modelled after the Child Tax Benefit, to assist low and middle-income families in tackling the costs of everyday needs while caring for elderly or dependant family members. Eligible family members will include children, spouses, parents and other family members, and will be able to receive up to $1500 per year;
    We will make Status of Women Canada a full ministry responsible for advancing women’s rights, including a mandate for advocacy and research in line with Canada’s international obligations;
    We will support the work of the new UN Women’s Agency;
    We will restore funding to women’s programs and organizations cut by Stephen Harper, including the Court Challenges Program;
    We will re-affirm women’s rights to safe, accessible abortion services.
    Back to top

    5.13 Promoting Equality Rights in Canada
    We will ensure that gender identity and gender expression are included as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, amend the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure we are providing explicit protection for transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination in all areas of federal jurisdiction;
    We will support gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gender and transsexual equality internationally, as per the Montreal and Yogyakarta Principles on Human Rights;
    We will work with affected multicultural communities to appropriately redress historical issues arising from governmental actions, including options such as recognition of wrongdoing, official apologies, and compensation.
    Back to top

    Wow. That’s laying it all out there. No weasling. Either you’re an equal citizen or you’re not. There’s no splitting hairs. You can’t be a little bit pregnant.

  4. The unique thing about New Democratic Party policy is that it starts at the riding association (grassroots level). If a proposed policy passes a local Provincial or Federal NDP association vote (they are technically, at least, separate organizations), the local association’s delegate presents it at either a Provincial or Federal Policy Convention where it is considered and voted on by province-wide (or nationwide) delegates. If passed, it becomes official NDP policy.
    Canada has both universal health care and old age security as a direct result of the efforts of the NDP and its precursor, the CCF (Canadian Commonwealth Federation).

  5. Astoundingly, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, at the very least, have been assiduous in fact checking campaign claims immediately this time around. For example: “PM Harper today said blah, blah, blah about Layton/Ignatieff. That is not true. Layton’s/Ignatieff’s position is actually blah, blah, blah.” (Caveat: I don’t watch TV news and listen to the CBC only in the car.)
    Midweek, the Sun (extremely conservative) media mogul slammed the Harper campaign for trying to use it to disseminate spurious (and erroneous) accusations against Ignatieff.
    The Globe and Mail endorsed Harper on Thursday. By early afternoon, it had received over 3,000 letters in response. I only read the first 20-25 and every one was adamantly opposed to the endorsement. Friday, a front page headline stated that the endorsement was the opinion of the editorial board only, and NOT of the newsroom. On Saturday, the frontpage headlined an opposing editorial endorsing “anyone but Harper”.
    The Toronto Star endorsed the NDP on Saturday.
    The worm has definitely turned in the major newsrooms of Canada. YAY!!!!!



    as well, I received this (excellent) link via e-mail. It takes a graphic novel approach to outlining the Harper history and agenda:


  6. love to move there 🙂

  7. OMG. You’d think that Sunday would be a day off but….

    NO!! I’ve been busy with one thing after another all day. Which I guess is better than the alternative of having nothing to do at all ….

    I think it has something to do with knitting. As soon as I get those knitting needles out the phone starts ringing off the hook.

    (totally off topic I know, but this way of Saying, “HI!” I love you!!)

  8. Truthfully, I’d like to see the NDP get a crack as the official opposition. I’m curious to see how and where they would make concessions on their ideologies, as is necessary when applying ideals to practical situations. I’m not especially hopeful, but I am curious.

  9. Watching the Canadian election results. NDP and Conservative parties are gaining seats. Liberal party getting beat.

  10. So NDP has now taken more seat than in any time in their history with 61 seats of about 220 seats called.

    Conservatives are only 20 seats from the majority.

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