Unit­ing the left

The Compass - - OPINION -

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

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