Uniting the left
I am confident in our New Democratic Party. I am not so confident that Canadians are willing to switch parties based on the good policies and awesome people we have in our party. All Canadians are proud of their particular party’s achievements and rightly so.
I am in conversation every day with other Canadians who still support the Conservatives, even after what they have done to our veterans, aboriginal peoples, our democracy, water protection and regulations, but their excuse is always “who else is there?” Many just want to be on a winning team, regardless of whether that team is playing by the rules or not.
We must, along with the Liberals, Greens, and Bloc, convince Canadians — all Canadians — that there is a choice. But a fractured choice is not going to be enough.
With the Liberals climbing in the polls and the advancement of the Green Party in recent byelections, Canadians want a party that stands up for all of them, not just the perceived notions of protecting unions, or the environment, or the middle class or Quebec. All left-leaning parties think they support all Canadians, and they do.
So why fracture when we can unite under a new banner, just as the Conservatives did when the Reform/Alliance party took over the Progressive Conservatives? Conservative supporters were not impressed and, in the end, many moved to another party or just stopped voting, leaving the Reform/Alliance with its same supporters and a few extra from the PC party.
It has taken 50 years for the NDP to achieve official opposition, even with our policies on health care, employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, even with Tommy Douglas’ and Jack Layton’s personalities. We have the people and great policies, but not the hearts and minds of all Canadians. Seventy per cent of Canadians are supporters of the NDP, Liberals, Greens and the Bloc. Thirty per cent are supporters of the Conservatives, yet they have a majority — because of the fractured left.
We are playing a card game where three of a kind beats a pair. If four of our parties banded together, we’d have four of a kind. Canada can’t afford to continue on holding to four pairs of aces while Harper has three deuces and continues to win.
We have two years left with the Harper Conservatives in power. Canada wants, needs, is begging for, a breakthrough. Even Canada’s military has had to band together with allies to defeat evil regimes in the world. Our political parties are no different.
Two years to talk, to debate, to work together, to unite, to become Canada’s party with Canadians as their priority, not oil companies and Chinese pandas.
The future of all of our parties starts today.
Robin Brentnall writes from Gambo