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NOW Magazine advocates for a centre-left green pact to defeat Harper

NOW magazine, for those who don’t know, is based out of Toronto and bills itself as “an alternative news and entertainment source”. One of it’s co-founders, Alice Klein, has written an article there in its most recent issue with the thesis being that the centre-left parties continued divisions make it far easier for Harper and his Conservatives to retain power, and that is unacceptable for those in particular who want a government that takes the environmental crisis seriously.

Klein in particular aims her sights at the NDP as the potential party which could make or break this coalition, and gives reasons why it should go for the idea. She argues that the NDP’s not wanting to cooperate with the Greens or the Liberals hurts it electorally, while cooperation would boost its fortunes.

Interesting article, although I already know that no one in the NDP will actually go for the idea, as we already have some of the membership accusing the author of being a Liberal, which may or may not be the case, though her bio certainly doesn’t indicate she’s one. Perhaps she is, or perhaps she’s a committed activist on the left who (in her mind) sees the big picture.

The last time there was a defining issue other then the environment, it was free trade in 1988. The 2 opposition parties (Liberal and NDP) who at the time both opposed free trade could have put aside their differences and formed a working coalition back then to ensure it failed, but they chose not to and run a traditional Canadian election – winner take all.. The result? A majority of voters voted for the combined 2 parties, but the electoral system handed the election to Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives, and free trade passed (which brings me in a roundabout way to the failings of our current electoral system, but I won’t go there now. You get my point).

I don’t see that happenning beyond a very limited scale (ie the May-Dion deal in NS), because of pride and self-interest and so on and so forth, and not just from the NDP. In the current electoral system we have (oops.. going back there), it is geared towards an adversarial system, and inevitable vote-splits occur because of that, unfortunately. It would take a massive amount of statesmanship on all sides to form the coalition Klein desires, and I really don’t see that happening right now – not unless the Green Party becomes more of a force at the national level – as they seem to be the only party willing to do it “for the greater good”.

16 comments to NOW Magazine advocates for a centre-left green pact to defeat Harper

  • Jason Hickman

    The last time there was a defining issue other then the environment, it was free trade in 1988. The 2 opposition parties (Liberal and NDP) who at the time both opposed free trade could have put aside their differences and formed a working coalition back then to ensure it failed, but they chose not to and run a traditional Canadian election – winner take all.. The result? A majority of voters voted for the combined 2 parties, but the electoral system handed the election to Brian Mulroney’s Conservatives, and free trade passed…

    Not to speak for the New Democrats in the room, but if you think about how the Libs acted on this issue once they got into office in ’93 and onwards, it probably gives you a great big clue why they’re not willing to hitch their wagons to the Liberals.  The Libs, as you pointed out, were incredibly hostile to the orginal FTA when they were in opposition, but were quite in favour of free trade while in office. 

    Why shouldn’t the NDP (or the Greens, for that matter) simply assume that this would be another case of the Liberals running from the left only to govern from the right (or at least, "the right" from the perspective of an average New Democrat)? 

    The answer "because there’d be a coalition" wouldn’t do either, unless it was permanent.  Take a look at Ontario from the mid-80’s.  Sure, the 2-year period when the NDP kept the David Peterson Liberals in office through a formal deal may’ve led to good legislation from the NDP’s point of view, but once those 2 years were up and Peterson got his own majority, I don’t think Ontario New Democrats saw things going quite so well.  And they weren’t that anxious to be folded into the ON Liberals then. 

    The NDP (and Greens) have two possibilities in a formal coalition: junior partners, or getting absorbed into the stronger Liberal brand.  Unlike the pre-merger PC’s and the CA, where (despite what Joe Clark would tell you) there were a large number of policy similarities and working together at the provincial level, the Libs and NDP have maintained significant differences on a large number of issues – except, again, when the Libs are out there campaigning from the left.  A lasting coalition is much harder to build in the Lib/NDP scenario (and Lord knows, it was hard enough to bring the PC’s and Ref/CA back under one roof).

  • JimBobby,

    Are you sure the NDP’s support is shrinking?  I will grant you stagnant, but shrinking? If anyone’s support has gone down, it is the LPC’s.  I suspect most if not all of the Green’s support comes from disaffected Liberals.

  • "We could wipe this current government off the electoral map and each of the progressive parties could get more seats."

    A merger might achieve that. Simple co-operation would require that one of the 3 (LPC, NDP, GPC) be chosen to replace the Cons. Obviously, the party  with the best chance of doing that are the Grits. Convincing NDP voters to vote LPC just to rid us of the Con’s  is a tough sell. Even GPC voters have trouble with this. If GPC and NDP supporters hold their noses and vote Liberal, what do they get? If the Greens get a few MP’s elected, we’ll be happy. The NDP won’t be happy until they form the government. That’ll never happen. Dippers will remain unhappy with their shrinking support but they’ll hold fast to their outdated anti-business ideology until they fade away. Greens are both more desperate, more pragmatic and more likely to collaborate with the Grits if it means getting a toehold in Parliament.

    JB

  • Sean,

    Saanich and the Gulf-Islands. Look it up on Wikipedia.

    Again, this is not about a full scale merger. Nor is this necessarily about the NDP bowing out nationally. Rather, this is about cooperation between the progressive parties and a return to civil discourse. If the three progressive parties stopped advancing attacks against each other (I’m looking particularly at the NDP) we could collectively end this current government’s charade of credibility. We could wipe this current government off the electoral map and each of the progressive parties could get more seats.

  • Can someone point out a riding or two (besides the London by-election) where the Green vote off-set the NDP vote and pushed the Conservative through the middle? Klein speculates but doesn’t give any proof from the 2006 election.

  • which is only a step away from a merger. Take the Sask Liberals in the late 1990s, forming a coalition with the than NDP government killed their party. How could you explain to your members to vote for a Liberal one election but than ask them to vote for you the next election? It just wouldn’t happen and which ever party bowed out in any given riding would be putting a very large nail into their coffin for years to come. In the end the bigger party (which at the moment is the Liberals, though if their donation totals continue to pace the NDPs who knows) will swallow the smaller party and you can say goodbye to their policies. Just take a gander at the now Conservative Party of Canada for a perfect example.

  • Scott, I corrected myself over at the original site.

  • Sean:

    Where exactly in that article cited does Klein advocate a merger of the NDP and Liberals?

    She isn’t – she’s advocating cooperation/coalition politics amongst the centre-left parties. That isn’t the same as merging.

  • "a lot of my ideology corresponds more with the Liberals (albeit on the left of the party) then elsewhere, and I prefer to work from inside the Liberals  here to advance/advocate my particular positions – not unlike a few of the former Green members have decided. It’s where you feel the most comfortable, and at the moment, that is here in Liberal-land."

    I would echo this sentiment, only that it is the NDP that my ideologies correspond to. Again I will ask, why would the NDP think about merging with the Liberals? There is a strong base of support that advocates for ideas and policies that most Liberals don’t consider important. If the NDP were to surrender to the Liberals it and its policies would be swallowed whole by the much larger Liberal Party, who would than have no reason to stick to the left side of the spectrum. What does that get us? a two party system that will inch further to the right over time leaving social issues to wither and die.

  • Greg: apologies if you’re not. From reading your posts, and seeing the newswire there that seemed to heavily emphasize NDP stories, that’s where I presumed your loyalties lie.

    As for the Greens, and willing to co-operate, a lot of my ideology corresponds more with the Liberals (albeit on the left of the party) then elsewhere, and I prefer to work from inside the Liberals  here to advance/advocate my particular positions – not unlike a few of the former Green members have decided. It’s where you feel the most comfortable, and at the moment, that is here in Liberal-land.

    I still haven’t seen anyone showing me Ms. Klein is a Liberal, Greg, If I’m going to withdraw my presumptions of you being an NDP member, unless you can find proof, you need to be withdrawing your inference she’s a Liberal member.

  • Scott, how do you know I am a member of the NDP? For the record, I am not a member of any party. I have problems with all of our parties at the moment.

    JB
    Whooee! Scotty, since you figger that the Greens are the only party willing to work for the greater good, why not cast off that Liberal yoke and join our merry band of treehuggers?

    Yes Scott, that is a very good question.

    Bailey
    Also, she once a member of the Socialist League of Canada.
    Ya, 35 years ago. Seems to me Bob Rae used to be a socialist too. Wonder what he is doing these days?

  • Bailey

    I hardly believe that Alice Klein is a Liberal.  Anyone who has read NOW Magazine more than once would easily come to that conclusion. 

    Also, she once a member of the Socialist League of Canada. 

  • Whooee! Scotty, since you figger that the Greens are the only party willing to work for the greater good, why not cast off that Liberal yoke and join our merry band of treehuggers?

    The problem of co-operation among opposition parties boils down to the local and personal level. On a national scale, it makes sense. Try telling a longtime Liberal member that there won’t be a LPC candidate in his riding and he’s supposed to vote NDP… or Green. Not every LPC vote in Central Nova is going to go to Lizzie May.  When the Alliance and PC’s merged, it happened at a national level. Any successful banding together of left-leaning parties would need to happen at the top.

    JB

  • mushroom

    "Well it’s too the detriment of the NDP that they won’t consider the idea."

    Hey, Jack Layton is trying to convert himself into being the Canadian version of Kevin Rudd!!!!

    Pardon me, I am choking on my waffles over this and I am not talking about Mel Watkins and James Laxer. 

  • mushroom

    I don’t know about NOW magazine these days.

    Its articles have been calling for Howard Hampton to fall on his sword, to be replaced by (gasp) Adam Giambrone.  Now an article basically calling for Layton to be less of a partisan hack.

    What will it call for next?  David Miller to replace Jack Layton????    

  • Well it’s too the detriment of the NDP that they won’t consider the idea.  As a party they are increasingly becoming irrelevant – which isn’t to say that can’t be easily turned around – due to their purely reactionary stance they’ve taken rather than looking forward.

    There was a local paper here that suggested something similar about 6 weeks ago.  The Scugog Standard <a href= "http://thescugogstandard.ca/Archives/november-07/november2-07/01editorial.html">editorial</a&gt; took it one step further though and suggested that the Liberals and the NDP will have to merge, much like the Alliance and PC did.

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