Tuesday, May 15, 2007

divided we fall

It's funny how a little thing like a provincial election can radically change the federal political situation. By beating the PQ for opposition party status in Quebec, the Partie Action Democratique has opened the way for Stephen Harper to make inroads in Quebec at the expense of the federal seperatist Bloc Quebecoise.

This brings me to the real subject of my column, which is unity and division in the Canadian left. I was listening to a CBC National documentary on the radio last thursday night that pointed out that although the NDP won its highest ever number of federal seats under Ed Broadbent in 1988, by running against the anti-free trade Liberals the NDP helped Mulroney's pro-free trade Progressive Conservatives get elected. Thus a phyrric victory, where getting the most seats became more important than stopping the free trade deal.

Some pundits would argue that during the 1990's the reason the Chretien Liberals won two of its three consecutive elections was that the right was divided. Now that the right in Canada is united under one party they are likely to win federal elections for the next ten years, as long as the left stays divided.

Chances are that the NDP under Layton or any other leader would reject any plan for merging with the Liberal party. And with good reason, because they would be swallowed up without a trace if they did.

But that leaves us with the real possibility of a majority Harper government that has no intention of inconveniencing the oil companies and Alberta by honouring Kyoto, that would like nothing better than to wholeheartedly join forces with Bush's spectacularly counter-productive “War on Terror”.

Elizabeth May the new leader of the Green Party was interviewed, along with Buzz Hargrove, Union leader. May, you may remember, concluded a deal with Stephan Dion that puzzled a lot of Canadians. The greens agreed not to run against Dion in his riding and the Grits agreed not to run in the riding where Elizabeth May is running.

Buzz Hargrove got kicked out of the NDP for advocating strategic voting in the last federal election. He tried to persuade labour to vote for strong Liberal candidates in some ridings and strong NDP candidates in others rather than split the left vote. Sounds like a good idea to me and Hargrove claims he's got the polling results to back him up.

Properly done, strategic voting could get us a minority government with the Liberals and the NDP sharing power – not a bad outcome for the left. It would be risky, but anything is better than electing a Bush-loving Harper majority government that would be in a position to wreak national and international havoc.

In our Skeena - Bulkley Valley riding we've got a strong candidate in Nathan Cullen. He's been an excellent environmental advocate. He'd make a great Minister of the Environment in a Coalition government. What do you say traditional Liberals? Why don't you think about it? Like I say, “if you can't join em, beat em.”

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