It’s time for the NDP in Ottawa

Written by Brian Revel on August 2nd, 2015

The 2015 federal election has been called.

I’ve declared. It is the NDP whom I’m supporting.

No doubt, you’ve seen my many political posts and know well of my deep distain for the current government.

I was somewhat less committed to this choice until the Liberals under Justin Trudeau supported Bill C-51. That sealed my support for Thomas Mulcair and the NDP.

Many of you know that I once ran as a candidate for the NDP against who is now the premier of British Columbia- and later ran for the nomination in the federal riding of Vancouver-Centre. My own partisanship therefore might seem like a foregone conclusion. But don’t let that fool you. I was disillusioned by the NDP and its own weaknesses for many years. It isn’t perfect and my circumstances at the time had me staring straight into those imperfections. It took me ten years to realize that the seeds to those circumstances were sewn by none other than myself and that no party is perfect, anywhere at any time. But my return to the NDP fold has been very, very slow and I have questioned myself every step of the way. I still refuse to rejoin as a member but I certainly have no qualms about expressing why I will vote for the NDP.

As we look across the expanse of this upcoming 78-day election campaign, I see on the horizon two very different Canadas. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are taking this country into some very deep and uncharted waters. They have lied and they have deceived us all to get us this far. I don’t want to overemphasize this but truly, this election will see us at the brink.

In one direction will see us having more added to the unprecedented record of what we’ve had for the last 4 years… Contempt of Parliament, a devastating economic record based on oil and gas, unprecedented scandals, unprecedented muzzling of science, an unprecedented targeting and demonizing of one cultural group (Muslims), an unprecedented overt attempt to control the media, an unprecedented suggestion that citizenship can be revoked, the unprecedented passage of an anti-terrorism act whose scope is so broad that just about everybody can be a potential target, an unprecedented commitment to warmongering and warfare, unprecedented secret trade deals and radical legal changes buried in omnibus bills, unprecedented limit on Parliamentary oversight, unprecedented attacks on organized labour and working families… What more evidence do we need? We are headed toward a country I have never known.

On the other hand, the opposition parties, disparate as they are, are jostling each other for the touted place as “government in waiting”. The Liberals under Justin Trudeau (a star leader if ever there were one) seem to be mired still in their own narcissism and arrogance- no matter what they tell us. Actions speak louder than words and their policies shift with the winds which means the finger they raise to test those winds could very well be the same one Justin’s father used to signal his distain for unhappy voters from a train in Salmon Arm in the summer of 1982.

This was the case when Trudeau kicked the Liberal senators out of the Liberal caucus. Good for him… that was a good start. But then he turned around and supported (as did the former Liberal Senators) supported the most draconian, invasive, unprecedented attack on Canadians’ political and civic rights ever by proposing a few amendments knowing they would be defeated and then voting for Bill C-51, the new “anti-terrorism” bill.

On every question, Canadians have to hold their breath wondering which way the Trudeau weathervane policy-machine will point. Behind the leader, who’s in charge? The Chrétien-ites who could go populist and left? Or the Martin-ites who would just find the path Harper has hitherto forged and follow it, leading us further into oblivion? We just don’t know and we would only know once they actually started to govern. That’s too much of a blank cheque in this time of extremes if you ask me. What we need is certainty. What we need is someone to stop the inevitable lock-step march we are headed on, point in another direction and then lead us in that direction. And as much as many might like to believe otherwise, Trudeau just doesn’t have the personal gravitas, or control of his party, to make that happen.

Then there is the Green Party. While principled, and in the past has been a very strong contender for my vote, is just not big enough to stop the Conservative bulldozing machine. I love Elizabeth May’s plucky earnestness- almost naiveté- in Parliament. She harkens back to a day when politics may still have been bare-knuckled but at least there was a civility and respect for the process and the institution of Parliament. She has principles and is no doubt the conscience of Parliament just as the NDP used to be under Tommy Douglas and Ed Broadbent.

But the reality is that the issues confronting Canadians in this election span much more than environmental or representational questions. There are elections where those questions are relevant- but not this one. This election is about much, much, more. Yes, she may be the lone voice talking about “Democracy” but right now we need boots- lots of them- in Parliament to ensure that her (and our) beloved democracy survives and the Greens just can’t pull that miracle off.

This leaves us with only one choice. The NDP is that party, although the media seem very slow to recognized that fact. The NDP is Her Majesty’s Official Opposition and second in the polls. They are there for a good reason. They have proven themselves to be competent in the “game” of politics and most reflective of the values of Canadians.

The national NDP has expertise rooted deeply in communities across the country. It has been government in six of Canada’s provinces as well as Yukon, and shares the same values as a long-governing party in a seventh. The NDP has had its grand moments and its downfalls. As a movement and as a political organization, the NDP has grown and matured. To be national government, it is ripe for the picking.

Along the journey in its quest for relevance, the NDP has shed much of its extremist “socialist” views, although I can’t say they are gone for sure. All I know is that the system of government we have now slows any agenda to glacial speed until you’ve been in office long enough to manipulate the systems themselves… just as the Conservatives have managed to do since 2006. But the direction the NDP pulls will at least right our “ship of State” and pull us back from that brink. If it goes too far in the future, kick the rotters out… just as we must do to the current regime in this election.

In the last decade we have seen almost imperceptibly incremental steps towards a totalitarian State under Stephen Harper and the Conservatives… but they have started to have a cumulative effect. With every ‘reform’, the Harper’s Conservatives are getting bolder. Never ever forget that Hitler’s Nazis were first elected to the Reichstag. They didn’t just magically appear there one day. Yes, Krystallnacht helped them seize power but not every extremist needs a staged riot to win an election, do they? The conditions that made their seizure of power possible were slowly built up over time making 1933 a  pivotal moment in German history.

But let’s look away from the extreme, worst-case scenario and look at our everyday situation. This election, like never before, is about the kind of Canada YOU want to live in. Tax breaks that impoverish, rather than services that empower. Environmental policies that pull us back into the dark ages rather than policies that would create jobs and improve our impact on the environment. Economic policies that support the wealthy’s tax havens rather than ones that build our communities. A “multi-cultural” Canada that suits Conservative dogma rather than one that supports all Canadians to be their best in their endeavours. Cuts to education and social assistance and growth in jails rather than the other way around. Lies sold as truth, or the truth as Canadians experience it. Solutions to problems invented for expediency, or solutions to make our lives better for real.

That is the choice.

This is the election for a generation.

This is the moment for real change.

This is a Call to Arms… for Democracy.

 

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