How I tempted the fate of the federal election

by Raymond Parker on May 5, 2011

in Climate, Environment, News, Politics

Img description

Author (just post-radiation therapy) hobnobbing with Jack Layton, 2004)

[Technocrats] create and work principally within and through the systems of which they are emanations. Men who deal in power. Men given to the manipulation of facts and contemptuous of public debate …. they are outstanding examples of the sort of man who is attracted to contemporary systems and who does well within them.” ~John Ralston Saul, Voltaire’s Bastards

I like Jack Layton. He’s a fellow cancer-survivor and cyclist. I believe he is a dedicated public servant, not a “systems man.”

I support the New Democratic Party provincially and federally.

I live in a stable NDP constituency, held by the party at both levels. Besides the convenient amenities that allow me to live nearly car-free, that’s one of the main reasons I moved to my present neighbourhood and would hesitate to move elsewhere. I feel as though I live in an oasis of sanity.

But here’s why I’m not that enthusiastic about the so-called “surge” of the NDP in Monday’s election:

  • Though it gave the NDP Official Opposition status for the first time in the party’s history, it split the moderate vote in many 3-way races, handing the far-right Conservatives their coveted majority.
  • Half of their 102 seats were won in Quebec. While I don’t mourn the demise of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, the volatility of that vote is no guarantee of future support, and Layton now has a great weight on his shoulders, compounded by the inexperience of many newly-elected QC MPs.
  • Despite Layton’s pledge to hold Stephen Harper accountable, realistically, there is nothing the Opposition can do to force a majority government—which has already, with minority status, shown its disdain for democracy to the point of being held in contempt of Parliament—to reconsider its agenda.
  • We seem to have entered an era of American-style confrontational politics. (I’m not blaming the NDP for this development; it’s natural that progressive Canadians would unite against right wing extremism)

Alas, the surge was not a tsunami. The ABC movement—”anything but the Cons”—did not achieve its aim. And so, the corporatists have their man in Canada—a courtier of Big Oil’s ruthless cartels.

We can look forward to more wasted years of stalling on critical environmental issues: global warming and its associated energy and transportation decisions. Already, the day after the election, Harper insinuated that the energy priorities of “the West,” at least those he assigns to us, will prevail.

Say hello to leak-prone pipelines across the Interior and oil tankers plying the tempestuous waters of the West Coast.

“… maximal productivity achieved at the cost of social desolation and human misery is an anomalous and destructive social ideal.” ~John Gray, False Dawn

In service to this agenda, we can expect more muzzling of Canadian scientists and defunding of programs that monitor ecological life-support systems, as the intractable “logic” of the efficiency cult marches forward.

Elizabeth May, the first Green Party candidate to be elected in Canada (in an adjacent riding), will be in for a rough ride.

Her voice of sanity will be a welcome addition for the many Canadians who put a high value on the environmental assets of this great country, a symbol around the world for its natural wonders.

In this parliament, it will be largely ignored.

When the election was announced and Chairman Harper began his imperious demands for a majority, betting on the “give ’em enough rope” strategy, I said to friends: “Let him have it. “Let’s see how far he can go before true-believers clue in that the Cons are not working in their, or their children’s, interests.”

In the final days before the vote, newspaper editorial departments, often staffed with alumni of right wing think tanks—like the Vancouver Sun’s Fazil Mihlar—were also eager to see a Harper landslide, though not with the expectation its path of destruction might finally turn the public against their project.

For my part, I just hope I haven’t urged on the demise of Canada.

Federal NDP | BC NDP | Green Party of Canada

{ 9 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Conor Ahern May 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

It seems like Canada is going to have to endure what Ireland had for 14 years, a government with a big enough majority that it could do as it pleased. Would I be correct in assuming that Canada has a “Whip” system in operation, where the members of parliament must vote in favor of the their respective or else face expulsion from the party. Nobody wants to be thrown out of the party because then their career in politics will be over.

The new government which we voted for in late February has an absolutely huge majority, it remains to be seen if this majority will be used to the benefit of the Irish people or for the benefit of the politicians and their “friends”.


Raymond Parker May 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

That’s pretty much the size of it, Conor.

The constituents’ concerns usually take second place to the party agenda. One of the first things on this government’s agenda will be to defund parties, leaving the system open to even more influence from corporate interests.

We’re heading down the road to American-style politics.


Conor Ahern May 6, 2011 at 2:49 am

Here is an amazing story, strange but true. An Irishman was sent to prison last year for giving bribes to politicians, no politicians went to prison for accepting bribes. This guy specialised in persuading politicans to vote for certain things. He was the middle man and his clients got away Scot free. No, I am not making this up.

In fact our former prime minister coined the phrase “Political donation for personal use” to get himself out of trouble.


Raymond Parker May 6, 2011 at 11:09 am

As per the hyperlink above (the corporatists), it’s just part of the political apparatus. They’re called “lobbyists.” Here, as in the States, their offices surround the seats of government.

Hence, what we have is not democracy but corporatism … or plutocracy, if you like.


Raymond Parker May 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm

A bit of serendipity: Last night, I rented the movie Casino Jack, based on the true story of Bush administration “super-lobbyist” Jack Abramoff.

Highly recommended, just in case you missed the story. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.


Conor Ahern May 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Other movies on a similar vein would be “The Bush Family-the best democracy money can buy!” and “Inside Job” I can post you copies if you would like.


Raymond Parker May 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Yup. Seen those. “Inside Job” should be required viewing for anyone who cares about what used to be called Justice.


Ryan May 8, 2011 at 4:52 am

I just recently turned 25 and have already voted four Federal elections…Unlike many who whine about all the elections, I’m perfectly fine going to the polls every couple of years — as I much prefer minority governments.

I actually voted Liberal in this past election. I figured they would have the best shot in my riding at unseating the Conservative and I actually like Ignatieff…As it turns for the first time in memory the Liberal member came in third. (St. Catharines is usually a flip-flop riding between the Liberals & Conservatives).
Our NDP candidate was a very weak one and many said he’d finish below the Green’s. He obviously did well because of Layton and the NDP surge.

I don’t actually support one party through-in-through. Federally I have voted Liberal (twice), Green’s & Conservatives (yes, under Harper).

Provincially I have only been able to vote once, and my support went to the Green’s.
NDP is currently the only party I haven’t voted for at any level.

Here in Ontario we have a Provincial election in October. What worries me is the Progressive Conservatives getting in. I fear many will not look at what he stands for and simply want to vote out our current Liberal government.


Raymond Parker May 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm

It would have been better for the country if there had been more strategic voting.

The Con scaremongering about coalitions–that function perfectly well around the world–was ludicrous. Of course, they take some cooperation, a democratic principle Harper has shown no sign of embracing.

At some point, unless we’re going to see the Cons become, as some pundits muse, the “natural ruling party” of Canada, the centre left and greens are going to have to discuss a coalition among themselves.

That’s how the right got where they are today, despite Harper’s bunkum.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: