A re­but­tal to at­tack on the NDP

The Compass - - OPINION - — Bill West­cott writes from Clarke’s Beach

I have never been so an­gry in my life un­til I read Joy French-Cole­man’s let­ter to The Com­pass, pub­lished in the June 25 edi­tion un­til the head­line “Sus­pi­cious of the NDP.”

In it she at­tempts to equate the New Demo­cratic Party with com­mu­nism and goes so far as to warn Com­pass read­ers to not for­get Tianan­men Square in China.

Ms. French-Cole­man in a sug­ges­tive way clas­si­fies the NDP as “a form of Mao-like so­cial­ism” and in the process equates great Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal lead­ers like the late Tommy Dou­glas, David Lewis and Jack Lay­ton with no­to­ri­ous com­mu­nists such as China’s Mao Tse-Tung.

Her das­tardly comment about Tianan­men Square is so down­right nau­se­at­ing that it does not merit a sin­gle comment.

Th­ese (Saintly) great Cana­di­ans stood for “Cana­dian so­cial democ­racy” and went to their early graves de­fend­ing it. Let’s take a close look at their lives (hardly those of dic­ta­tors). • NDP Tommy Dou­glas Once voted “the great­est Cana­dian of all time,” Tommy Dou­glas was a prairie politi­cian who be­lieved in demo­cratic so­cial­ism, the cru­cial role of civil rights, and the great po­ten­tial of co-op­er­a­tion for the com­mon good. He is best known as the “Fa­ther of Medi­care.”

Born in 1904 Dou­glas was a cham­pion boxer and a Bap­tist min­is­ter who later ex­changed his pul­pit for a po­lit­i­cal plat­form. A pow­er­ful or­a­tor and tire­less ac­tivist, he sat first as a fed­eral MP and then served for 17 years as pre­mier of Saskatchewan, where he in­tro­duced the univer­sal health-in­sur­ance sys­tem that would even­tu­ally be adopted across Canada.

As leader of the fed­eral NDP, Dou­glas was a staunch ad­vo­cate of pro­grams such as the “Cana­dian Pen­sion Plan” and was of­ten the con­science of Par­lia­ment on mat­ters of civil lib­er­ties. In the process, he made demo­cratic so­cial­ism a part of main­stream Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal life.

Giller Prize-win­ning author Vin­cent Lam, an emer­gency physi­cian who works on the front lines of the health-care sys­tem, in a new book “Tommy Dou­glas” pro­files what he calls one of Canada’s greats. • NDP David Lewis NDP leader David Lewis worked for years for the old CCF, but he came into his own when it be­came the New Demo­cratic Party. Cam­paign­ing against “cor­po­rate wel­fare bums” in 1972, David Lewis led the NDP to hold the bal­ance of power in the re­sult­ing Lib­eral mi­nor­ity govern­ment. David Lewis and his NDP sup­ported the in­tro­duc­tion of a national af­ford­able hous­ing strat­egy, a new Elec­tions Ex­penses Act, pen­sion in­dex­ing, and the cre­ation of Petro-Canada and the For­eign In­vest­ment Re­view Agency.

David Lewis was the fa­ther of an­other great Cana­dian, the schol­arly Stephen Lewis, who was ap­pointed Canada’s ambassador to the United Na­tions, a role in which he gar­nered great ad­mi­ra­tion for our Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions what he called the very essence of democ­racy. • NDP Jack Lay­ton The beloved Cana­dian Jack Lay­ton (who died Aug. 22, 2011) was a “so­cial-demo­cratic politi­cian” and leader of the of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion. He lead the fed­eral NDP from 2003 to 2011, and pre­vi­ously sat on the Toronto city coun­cil, oc­ca­sion­ally hold­ing the ti­tle of “act­ing mayor.” He was the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Toronto-Dan­forth from 2004 un­til his un­timely death.

A prom­i­nent left-wing voice in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics, he cham­pi­oned many pro­gres­sive causes. He later rose to be­come head of the “Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.” In 2003, he was elected leader of the fed­eral NDP on the first bal­lot of the con­ven­tion.

Un­der his lead­er­ship sup­port for the NDP in­creased in each elec­tion. The party’s pop­u­lar vote al­most dou­bled in the 2004 elec­tion, which gave the NDP the bal­ance of power in Paul Martin’s mi­nor­ity govern­ment.

In May 2005 the NDP sup­ported the Lib­eral bud­get in ex­change for ma­jor amend­ments, in what was pro­moted as Canada’s “First NDP bud­get.” In Novem­ber of that year, Lay­ton voted with other op­po­si­tion par­ties to de­feat the Lib­eral govern­ment over the find­ings of the Gomery Com­mis­sion.

The NDP saw fur­ther gains in the 2006 and 2008 elec­tions, in which the party elected 29 and 37 MPs, re­spec­tively.

In 2011 (his last) elec­tion Lay­ton led the NDP to the most suc­cess­ful re­sult in the party’s his­tory, win­ning 103 seats, enough to form Canada’s of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion.

Fed­eral sup­port for Lay­ton and the NDP in the elec­tion was un­prece­dented, es­pe­cially in the prov­ince of Que­bec, where Lay­ton’s NDP party won 59 out of 75 seats.

Jack Lay­ton brought teary eyes to Cana­di­ans coast to coast when he lost his bat­tle with can­cer in the sum­mer of 2011.

I sug­gest to Joy French-Cole­man that she take a closer look at CANA­DIAN SO­CIAL DEMOC­RACY as fos­tered by th­ese trail­blaz­ing great and no­ble men. I also sug­gest she con­sider the tire­less work of cur­rent NDPers, in­clud­ing national leader Thomas Mul­cair, Jack Har­ris, Ryan Cleary and, provin­cially, Lor­raine Michael.

Th­ese are hardly lead­ers with com­mu­nis­tic lean­ings. It would be im­pos­si­ble to call ei­ther of them a Com­mie (as French-Cole­man might sug­gest).

If this let­ter fails to con­vince Ms. Joy French-Cole­man of the se­ri­ous­ness and the po­lit­i­cal in­cor­rect­ness of her June 25 views, I sug­gest she burn her MCP card, tear up her Canada Pen­sion cheque and, if ap­pli­ca­ble, do like­wise with her Old Age Se­cu­rity cheque.

To do oth­er­wise would, in my view, be a sac­ri­lege.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.