By Henry McRandall
While some pundits have aptly noted that the old left-right paradign may no longer be applicable in U.S. politics, the same could somewhat also be true in Canada – except for one thing: a paradigm shift may actually be occurring north of the longest undefended border in the world.
The carte blanche given to Amerikkkan banks and corporations to control the country’s elections may indeed have ended any genuine difference between the Democrats and the Republican Tea Party other than in rhetoric.
But there is still a glimmer of hope that because of the difference in election financing laws relative to the U.S., the Canadian people – if not necessarily the Canadian political class – still seem to intuit that a political paradigm shift in the land of pea soup and tourtiere – especially in the region where pea soup and tourtiere originated – is possible.
With just a week and a half to go before the May 2 Canadian federal election, a slew of opinion polls over the last couple of weeks have seen the mildly left-of-centre NDP (New Democratic Party) register enormous gains in public support.
While this surge in NDP support is occurring right across Canada, it is most stunning in Quebec where it suddenly appears poised to overtake the sovereignist Bloc Quebecois as the most popular federal party,
It is not to be expected that the NDP will win the election outright, but the entire dynamic is such that a plausible outcome is that the two social democratic parties – the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois – might between them hold the majority of the seats in a Liberal-NDP-Bloc Quebecois coalition.
As it happens, such a coalition would be the best possible outcome for Canada’s masses – the poor, the working class and the middle class.
It is the only possible outcome that might put the legitimate best interests of the poor, the working class and the middle class ahead of the elitist vested interests of the country’s banks and corporations and the billionaires and mega-millionaires who control both.
Yet while it is vital that the needs of the masses finally take precedence, it is still not clear that that would be the ultimate outcome.
Another poll published later tonight found that while the NDP has opened a historic three-point gap over the Liberals nationally, the BQ has sagged badly and a reactionary backlash has caused the right-wing Conservatives to surge to 43% public support, the cusp of a majority.
Averaging out the two national polls released today, support for the five major federal parties is as follows: Conservatives 39%; NDP 25%; Liberals 23%, Bloc Quebecois 7%; and Green Party 5%.
The total support for the three left-of-centre parties – the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) and the Green Party – would put a united left in a statistical tie with the Conservatives and possibly within reach of attaining a majority even without the centrist Liberals.
This would be the first time ever that at least half of a Canadian federal government’s members would be leftists.
It could happen. Six of Canada’s 10 provinces either have now or have had social democratic provincial governments in the past 20 years. Canadians could be on the verge of electing a left-of-centre federal government for the first time ever.
But if it happened, would the new government have the courage and the integrity to govern as a left-of-centre government? And, if they tried, would the billionaires and mega-millionaires who really hold most of the power allow them to govern?
Is the Canadian paradigm about to shift?
By Henry McRandall