Coalition: It's what Canadians want


As I write this, NDP chief Jack Layton’s star is on the rise. He is the second-most trusted leader in the country. Not bad for a guy heading up the Number 3 party in Canada.

Of course all of this is moot in this tiny eastern corner of the country. Here, it’s projected that we’ll elect Conservative candidate John Williamson, with about 59 percent of the votes. It’s now considered to be a “safe” riding for the blue team.

Not that all is safe for everyone in this riding. Unemployment is high, and so is drug-related crime. High school completion rates are low. And if anything should happen to the aquaculture or manufacturing industries, particularly Cooke, Flakeboard and Ganong, the economy out here would sink like a stone. The good news is, with Williamson as our rep and a Conservative government in Ottawa, we can be sure of our fair share of government projects heading this way to keep the riding safe.

That’s just how politics is played. It’s skewed from the get-go. Williamson himself was carefully parachuted into the riding by former Conservative cabinet minister Greg Thompson.

And what’s on Williamson’s résumé? Well, a couple of surprises. In March, 2007 he opined, “Rather than reduce the overall tax burden, the Conservative government opted to spend down the federal surplus.” That’s not good.

A month earlier he warned about the Harper government saying, “Ottawa has a revenue problem and a spending problem. Mr. Flaherty can solve the first by cutting taxes on March 19, a move today’s taxpayers will thank him for. He can fix the second by legislating expenditure limits.”

And he followed it up with another quote critical of the Harper Conservatives, “Thank Manning [Reform Party] and Chrétien [Liberal] for today’s prosperity.”

Well, I can understand his positive assessment of Chrétien and by extension, finance minister Paul Martin, as they were the folks from 1993 onward who actually built up Canada’s surplus, and not by slashing taxes I might add. Manning, of course, was never in power. But the point is, if Williamson were to remain so candid after winning his seat, he’d surely run into extreme difficulty with his boss, Stephen Harper. Given Mr. Williamson’s credentials as a PR man, that would be highly unlikely. But it doesn't matter anyway; he fits nicely into Harper's tic-tac-toe "spend us into debt—then cut taxes to the wealthy—and slash social/cultural services to balance the budget" mentality.

That said, the local scene doesn’t matter too much. The question is, should Canadians give Harper the majority he so craves? Or should we vote strategically—electing any opposition candidate that stands a chance of defeating a Conservative?

Well, it’s a crap choice. Less than 40 percent of Canadians, according to polls taken over the past few years, actually support a Conservative government. The other 60+ percent support the other parties. And just who are these other parties? They’re the Left-leaning, socially and environmentally concerned parties: the Liberals, New Democrats, Bloc Quebecois and Greens. All of these parties share far more in common with each other than they do with the Right-leaning Conservatives.

The Conservatives, themselves, got the message and found religion. Under Manning, Stockwell Day, Peter MacKay and Harper, they welded together the Reform, Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties into the new Conservative Party, and this group has a collective philosophy that has more in common with the American Republicans than it does with the old Progressive Conservatives—especially the old centrist “red” Tories.

So perhaps it’s time for the Left to steal from the Right’s playbook: a new coalition of the Left. Each former party would become a wing of the party responsible for it’s original mission. The New Democrat wing would head up social, health and education policy. The Greens would head up environment, and have a strong presence in new energy generation. The Bloc would look after francophone and multi-cultural affairs, broadening their sphere of influence into aboriginal affairs. The Liberals would look after responsible finance and international affairs.

Jack Layton would become the prime minister of the new Liberal-Democrats. Ignatieff would be the ideal minister of international affairs, and so on. This would be the deepest bench of talent in Canadian history. And these leaders are intelligent, reasonable and accommodating enough to pull it off.

It’s not the Conservative agenda that’s the primary enemy of Canada’s progressive future. It’s the fracturing of Canada’s Left. Without a cohesive Left, we leave the country in the hands of the Conservatives and their American-style free-market, militaristic, environmentally out-of-touch ideologies—and it’s that vision we’ll be chained to, giving more tax breaks to the wealthy while cutting back on social and cultural programs.

Given a choice, Canadians, I believe, know what kind of country they want to build. It’s one that takes care of those suffering at home first, acts in a financially responsible manner and does it’s best to relieve suffering elsewhere. So far we haven’t seen much of that coming from Harper’s Conservatives. I expect that with a majority government we’d see even less.

But it’s up to you. Vote as either your habit or your conscience dictates. In the end we’ll all get what we deserve anyway.


  1. Hmm... your coalition sounds ... well sensible. Congratulations!!!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts