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.