By Henry McRandall
Canada’s social democratic federal NDP took a major step toward winning the next election in 2015 by choosing charismatic and thoroughly bilingual Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair today as its new leader.
But if the NDP is to ever win a national majority, then it will be up to every member and every supporter of the party to dissuade Mulcair from shifting the party toward the centre (read: “right”
Just as British Columbia leadership candidate Nathan Cullen was wrong in suggesting the NDP should divvy up all the federal ridings among themselves, the Liberals and the Green Party and not run candidates against each other, Mulcair and his supporters are delusional if they think shifting even more toward the centre (or right) is the formula for success.
A couple of years ago, The Globe & Mail (Canada’s only national newspaper and primarily a business daily), ran an online survey asking its readers to categorize themselves politically from among seven options: “Far Left,” “Left of Centre,” “Centre-Left,” “Centre,” “Centre-Right,” “Right of Centre,” and “Far Right.”
Forty-six percent of respondents chose one of the three options including the word “Left,” 42% chose one of the three options including the word “Right,” and just 12% chose simply “Centre.”
Moreover, if you add the vote totals of the three parties most commonly regarded by the public as being “leftist,” – the NDP, the Parti Quebecois and the Green Party – and add just 25% of the Liberal Party’s vote total, you come up with a “leftish” vote total of 45.225%.
The entire Liberal Party vote total was 18.9%. Although failed leadership candidate Cullen may view the Liberal Party as a “liberal” or “progressive” or “leftish” party, and although new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair may see room for expansion of NDP support by shifting toward the centre (or right), they are both wrong.
The overwhelming majority of Liberals are either “Centre,” “Centre Right,” or “Right of Centre.” The fact that the only time the Liberal Party has provided Canadians with even mildly progressive government over the past half century has been when it has been a minority government totally dependent on the NDP for its parliamentary survival, disproves the myth that the Liberal Party is either “liberal” or “progressive” or “leftish.”
So how can the NDP achieve a majority victory federally in 2015? By shifting back to the left.
In his victory speech tonight, Thomas Mulcair alluded to the fact that 40 percent of eligible voters did not vote on May 2. He then pointed out that fully 65 percent of eligible young adults did not vote.
Young Canadians choose not to vote at all because they don’t believe any political party is committed to – or even interested in – their most pressing issues or their best interests.
And that includes the NDP.
But these young adults make up the majority of the growing mass of Canadians who support the global Occupy movement.
They are thoroughly disenchanted with the corporate capitalist agenda that only serves the exclusive interests of the Top One Percent.
Moreover, published polls on specific issues in recent years have shown strong and growing support for a wide variety of policies that would, at the very least, have to be called “leftish.”
If the NDP is to have any hope of winning a majority and forming Canada’s next federal government – its first-ever leftist government – then it must start now to aggressively promote unabashedly leftist policies on a wide variety of issues.
By doing so, it will not only enhance the enthusiasm of its own traditional supporters, it will also finally give that broad swath of eligible non-voters a real reason to vote. And there are a lot more potential votes to attract there than there are in the “centre.”
Those policies might include such things as: an end to the corporate-controlled so-called “free trade” pacts that have killed many hundreds of thousands of quality, high-paying Canadian jobs only to replace them with low-quality, low-wage McJobs and lavish a windfall of illicit profits on the Top One Percent; a massive redistribution of wealth, income and power from the Top One Percent to the Other 99 Percent; a single-payer universal child-care program; an immediate increase in the federal minimum wage – and pressure on all the provincial governments to do likewise – to $15 an hour in 2015 (which would give the minimum wage the same real spending power it had in 1974); direct government investment in the industrial sector of the economy to ensure the creation of quality high-wage Canadian jobs – both blue-collar and white-collar – in manufacturing, research and development, etc.; “fast, frequent and free” public transit – right across Canada – not only to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also as a potential contributor to the revitalization of the horrific number of Canadian downtowns that are slowly dying; a reduction in college and university tuition, as well as a reduction in interest rates on student loans; rejection of any SOPA- or PIPA-like legislation that is now menacing the long-term viability of the internet as “the people’s media” both in Canada and around the world; legalization of marijuana; an end to mandatory minimum prison sentences; the return of Canada’s armed forces to their proud peacekeeping past; a law requiring all part-time, “casual” or “contract” employees to be paid employee benefits on a pro rata basis; an end to favourable tax treatment of capital gains; the closing of 99 percent of existing tax loopholes; the return to a truly very progressive income-tax policy; a law requiring that every newspaper, every radio station and every television station in Canada be locally owned – both to abolish the current massive over-concentration of corporate media ownership and to restore the media’s erstwhile accountability to the communities in which it operates; cancellation of the entire F-35 program; an end to all corporate subsidies and handouts; withdrawal from both NAFTA and NATO; a crackdown on exorbitant consumer interest rates and banking service fees; abolition of the senate and the monarchy; restoration of full funding to the National Action Commitee on the Status of Women and abolition of the Tories’ ban on advocacy by the committee; etc.
The leftist path to a Mulcair NDP majority
By Henry McRandall