Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What the NDP means to Sean, and probably Canada

The following is not actually my writing, but I decided to make this my post for today. It is a very interesting and inspirational blog article by Sean in Saskatchewan. Seeing I did not actually write it, if you feel that you want to leave a comment, please do so on the original page.

What the NDP means to me, and probably Canada

It isn't easy being orange these days. What with the rise of the Green Party, supposedly sucking away the vote, the Liberals with a supposed new "green" bent and unsolicited attacks from Conservative and Liberal biased agents (blogs, media, pundits, chat forums), don't you sometime wonder why anyone would hook their wagon to a party who has never grasped that brass ring?

Well I have a confession to make, though I am sure if anyone really cared they could find this out pretty easily, I once was a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party of Canada. I remember taking out the membership during my early political days back in undergrad (oh nine years ago seems so far away) right before the 2000 election. I even volunteered for the campaign of Brenda Chamberlain in Guelph, Ontario.

However, when Martin came into power and started purging the Liberals of anyone with a left-bent I started to get nervous. The final straw was his treatment of Shelia Copps and her nomination fight against Toni Valeri. I tore up my membership card and quietly headed into the political wilderness in search of something new.

I was looking for a party, a candidate that wasn't in "the game" for power, but there to effect real change, and that just isn't something that you get with the Liberals. This idea more then anything is what brought me over to the NDP, slowly but surely.

Unlike the Conservatives or Liberals the Federal NDP has never had a viable chance to form government in this country. To this effect the political bent of the NDP has never been to get into power or stay in power, as these positions inevitably result in party policies and actions that leave a bad taste in your mouth. Instead, the NDP has been allowed to most accurately represent the voice of its "grassroots" on the national stage. Been allowed to push an agenda that doesn't necessarily translate into votes form all sides of an issue.

Granted, this approach never really paid dividends for the party during the past 20 years of majority governments, a system of government not really designed to that effect. However, with the past two minority governments this approach has proven to be quite effective in giving voice to a segment of the population (around 15-20%) that was usually ignored, expect for the odd socially-conscious bone thrown by the governing party of the time in a hopes to increase votes.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the 5.5 billion dollars in spending negotiated in the Liberals 2004 budget (though I must admit I don't know how much of that was ever implemented) and most recently (for better or worse, it is still an open debate) the attempt to re-write the horribly inadequate "Clean Air Act" of the Conservative minority.

The NDP will always be relevant if it chooses the path of being the social and environmental conscious of Canada, a constant thorn in the side of the governing party of the day that they need to remember the plight of the less fortunate of society. Sure you can dismiss the NDP as a "fringe" party, fear-monger by suggesting their policies, if given a chance, would destroy the country, (something I obviously disagree with, but something left for another debate, another day) but if the string of minority governments continues you won't be able to ignore the NDP much longer.

Eventually, the Conservatives and Liberals will have to learn how to work in a minority/coalition style of government, one where they must consensus build on issues instead of ramming their ideology driven measures down the throats of the majority of the country who didn't vote for them. I won't claim that the NDP has been perfect at this style of government over the past 3 years, however, they are at least trying, which is something the Liberals only did so as not to loss their grasp on that ring and something the Conservatives have yet to do.

So, hopefully that gives a little insight to all those out there as to what the NDP means to me and why I have chosen to spend so much of my personal time and energy working for it in my riding. Of course there is a mountain more I could write on cold-hard details, however, that is best saved for another time, another post.

Published Friday, January 5, 2007