5.25.2014

dark times in canada, part 3: adding my voice to oppose andrea horwath's rightward shift

I'm quite sure that Canadians who read this blog already know about this, and for others, it's not relevant. But I want to add my small voice to the chorus of progressive Canadians who are angry, hurt, and disgusted at the Ontario New Democratic Party. Thousands of Ontarians who would normally vote NDP are either voting Liberal, not voting, spoiling their ballot, or considering one of those options in the upcoming provincial election.

If you are not Canadian and you are are interested in our once-progressive politics, you can read the email sent by 34 prominent NDP supporters to ONDP Leader Horwath. It's another tired re-run of a story we know too well.

Time and again, progressive parties believe that they must shift to the right in order to broaden their appeal. Time and again, this strategy proves disastrous. So-called centrist voters and right-wing voters will vote for the real thing. Progressive people, when they find their party has abandoned its principles, find an alternative. The right-wing gets elected. The alternative party is blamed for the success of the right wing, and the once-progressive party has become one in name only.

One thing that has distinguished Canadian politics from US politics has been the NDP. Our so-called "third party" is actually a viable party, with seats in Parliament, and power to influence legislation. But as the NDP tastes the possibility of power, as the prize of forming a government seems increasingly possible to them, what do they do? They abandon the principles that got them elected in the first place. If the NDP becomes just another party of corporate giveaways, privatization, and middle-class tax cuts, it is doomed, first to irrelevance, then to nonexistence. When I wrote about this a few months back, I was referring to both the federal and the provincial NDP, but in the race to the right, Horwath has leap-frogged ahead of Thomas Mulcair.

If voters want right-of-centre parties, they have abundant choices in Canada. Liberal voters will thrill to the man with the famous last name. Right-wingers know what to do. And the rest of us? Who will protect us from the regressive, anti-labour, anti-human politics of Tim Hudak's Conservatives?

Andrea Horwath, a long time ago, back when I had cable TV, I happened to catch you making a speech at Queen's Park. You were holding forth against the harmonized sales tax, arguing that it disproportionately hurt working-class people. You were eloquent and powerful in your defense of the working people of Ontario. I thought you were the real deal. Now I know otherwise. Now I know that you make a good speech, but in reality, you are no more concerned with progressive values than Tim Hudak is. Your only concern is getting elected.

But unless you have the support of progressive people in Ontario, that will not happen. And we can't support you.


19 comments:

James Redekop said...

Thousands of Ontarians who would normally vote NDP are either voting Liberal, not voting, spoiling their ballot, or considering one of those options in the upcoming provincial election.

I've seen a lot of comments along these lines, and they never seem to include "voting Green instead". Is the Green party actually so messed up that the Liberals are a better option for the left?

The NDP shouldn't be looking for ways to compromise to get into power; they should be working to do what they've historically done best: be the conscience of the government.

laura k said...

James, I thought of that, but I didn't think there was a provincial Green party. I should have checked! I'll investigate further, find out what the GPO (nice acronym!) is about.

The NDP shouldn't be looking for ways to compromise to get into power; they should be working to do what they've historically done best: be the conscience of the government.

Correct!

laura k said...

Perhaps people feel that at least a vote for the Liberals will help stop Hudak, where a Green vote will not. I've asked on FB. If I get any good answers, I'll post them here.

James Redekop said...

I thought of that, but I didn't think there was a provincial Green party.

That partly answers the question: a lack of awareness of the party. If I hadn't had an acquaintance run as a Green a few elections back, I wouldn't have known either.

This is a situation where voting Green could do more harm than good, since we're stuck with a First Past the Post voting system.

If I haven't posted it before, this is my favourite video series on alternate voting systems.

Kirby Evans said...

I took the CBC Vote Compass for the Ontario election and it placed me far left of all the parties but closest to the Greens. That probably wouldn't be true federally but its was provincially. I have certain significant reservations about the Green Party but if we had PR I would certainly be willing to vote for them provincially.

Meanwhile, every NDP i know is considering voting for another party and as the election nears many are thinking of voting LIberal just to avoid the train wreck of Hudak.

James Redekop said...

I took the CBC Vote Compass for the Ontario election and it placed me far left of all the parties but closest to the Greens.

Likewise.

I think the chart gives the Liberals a little too much credit, but a victory for them would definitely be preferable to the PCs.

But then, even a pure disciple of Adam Smith would be far to the left of what passes for capitalists these days...

laura k said...

I didn't even notice the Greens on the Ontario Vote Compass! I was far to the left of all parties, too.

Meanwhile, every NDP i know is considering voting for another party and as the election nears many are thinking of voting LIberal just to avoid the train wreck of Hudak.

Yup.

laura k said...

My results.

ch said...

It's been almost a decade since I've voted NDP federally or provincially and I've since become a LPC member, so my opinion isn't of much concern to the NDP. After all, they keep increasing their seats federally.

I voted NDP when I never expected them to form a government, but I liked how they pushed the minority governments to do more to help those who needed it.

It's their right to chose to move more toward the center to see if it helps them capture more seats. Most parties aiming to form government move toward the center, whether they start from the right or the left. However, I feel if the NDP are successful at this, Canada could use a new more left-leaning party.

laura k said...

Is it their right? Not necessarily. The NDP has a charter, a constitution, a mandate - just like all parties. When Andrea Horwath was elected leader, was her mandate to remake the party? I don't know.

impudent strumpet said...

As other have mentioned, in previous elections when I've read the platforms, I found that Green was further right than I'd prefer. In situations where I vote for a party they've never been the party that's closest to my values and in situations where I vote against a party they've never been the party most likely to defeat the party I want to prevent from wining in my riding, so after some 15 years of this they aren't at the top of my mind as a party to vote for.

However, like others, I also found that the Vote Compass put me closest to Green. So I am going to be looking at their platform very closely once I get around to buckling down and studying all the platforms.

But I also question the Vote Compass, because I found that one of the questions (the one about saving for retirement) was misleading, so it makes me wonder if anything else on it is misleading. I did find it very useful for telling me where I need to focus my reading (not only were my results not what I expected, but the parties' positions vis-a-vis each other weren't what I expected for every single issue), but I'd have to do more research before I'd trust it unreservedly.

M@ said...

One Green Party policy that I know of, and support, is to get rid of the dual school systems (Catholic and Public). The savings would apparently be quite huge.

I think there was another Green Party policy that I supported, but I can't remember what.

In this election, it seems likely that disenamoured PC voters would be most likely to vote Green. A friend of mine did that in 2007 when John Tory promised to extend funding to all religious schools.

laura k said...

One Green Party policy that I know of, and support, is to get rid of the dual school systems (Catholic and Public). The savings would apparently be quite huge.

That is fantastic. Long past due, and obviously no candidate from a mainstream party will take on the issue.

laura k said...

But I also question the Vote Compass, because I found that one of the questions (the one about saving for retirement) was misleading, so it makes me wonder if anything else on it is misleading.

I also found Vote Compass misleading in certain areas. The questions read like a cartoon version of the parties. Granted, some of the parties are cartoons, but that's a separate issue.

When the Political Compass started, the idea was that the left-right spectrum was too narrow, and we should use a four-quadrant system to better visualize our worldviews. Now that it's Vote Compass for specific elections, it's been oversimplified and is of limited value, I think.

laura k said...

In case anyone has not seen it: political compass. It's not about a specific election, although for some major national elections, you can see how the candidates fit in.

One of the big reveals (for some people) from the original Political Compass was that it demonstrated how all the US candidates were bunched up in the same spot. They were virtually indistinguishable.

James Redekop said...

As far as I know, Vote Compass and Political Compass are unaffiliated. Both are based off of other two-dimensional political models, such as the Nolan Chart or the Pournelle chart (developed by SF author Jerry Pournelle as part of his PhD).

laura k said...

I'm under the impression that one inspired the other, although I don't have time to search for anything to support that idea!

James Redekop said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the Vote Compass website was inspired by the Political Compass project, though it does use slightly different axes. Political Compass used authoritarian/libertarian as its vertical axis (with libertarian at the bottom), while Vote Compass uses social progressivism/conservatism (with progressive at the top).

Pournelle's model is similar to both of these, but used rationalism/irrationalism (meaning that you can/can't assume perfectly rational behaviour from humans as a whole, not a judgement call) as its vertical axis.

M@ said...

I think there was another Green Party policy that I supported, but I can't remember what.

I remembered: the Green Party is the only one promising to destroy the foreign-owned corporate monopoly on beer sales in Ontario. I wholeheartedly support that, and I don't ever shop at the beer store -- I go to one of the breweries in town, or to the LCBO.