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Whither the Ontario NDP’s social conscience?

I’ve been observing this Ontario campaign with some curiosity as to why the Ontario Liberals decided they were going to target Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP first in the (pre)-camapaign over them failing to support their rather progressive budget, rather then go after Tim Hudak’s far-right stances/policies, which seemed to be a more obvious thing to attack. I think its now apparent why: there are a lot of progressive traditional voters of the NDP that are disgruntled by her tack to the centre, illustrated very well by Carol Goar:

Ontario’s churches, charities, social activists and anti-poverty advocates issued a statement in the second week of the provincial election campaign, reminding candidates that more than a million Ontarians can’t afford food, safe housing and other basic necessities..But this time, there was something different. The New Democrats, to whom the disadvantaged have always looked for support, were the least responsive of the three parties….She triggered the election by rejecting the most progressive provincial budget in decades, one that would have raised the minimum wage, increased the Ontario Child Benefit, improved welfare rates, and provided more support to people with disabilities. she left MPPs such Cheri DiNovo, a longtime advocate of the vulnerable and marginalized, without a social justice platform to stand on. (Scott’s note: DiNovo is being opposed in her riding by long time blogging friend of mine and Liberal netroots activist Nancy Leblanc)….There are still three weeks left in the campaign. Horwath could still reach out to low-income Ontarians. But at this point, she appears to be auditioning for the role of waste-buster and austerity advocate.

Horwath as not discouraged this view, arguing she is trying to cast herself in the mold of Roy Romanow and Tony Blair – folks that weren’t exactly NDP purists on positions. They of course got into power arguably because of that. The question is whether the traditional NDP supporters in Ontario are comfortable with that approach (never thought I’d hear an NDP leader say they’d appoint a Minister to find/reduce waste/expenses.. they probably haven’t either)

If you look at polls, including the latest Ekos poll out last night, which has the Liberals leading the PC’s by 7, and Frank Graves of Ekos describing the NDP’s campaign as “hapless” and having “imploded”, it appears the traditional NDP supporters aren’t liking what they see. They appear to be shifting to the Liberals, and something I didn’t think could happen has; Kathleen Wynne and the OLP is outflanking the NDP on the left. Will that trend be reversed, or can Andrea produce some policies to appease her social democrat/progressive wing? At this point, I can’t say yes (though they’ve not really released ANY of their election planks yet for scrutiny,so if they decide to get around to doing that.. perhaps they’ll surprise us)

2 comments to Whither the Ontario NDP’s social conscience?

  • I think Ron Waller is overstating the case. I certainly wouldn’t say that the OLP is left of the ONDP. However, the lines of demarcation are not entirely clear. Today Alex Cullen said that the NDP would be laying off civil servant, for example. Horwath says that they will lower business tax etc. Having lived in England when Blair came to power I know the way in which a change in language expresses a change in attitude and pre-figures a change in policy emphasis. But most importantly, this could be literally a once in a lifetime chance to create a provincial retirement plan and the pragmatism of this possibility should have prevailed over all temporary partisan interests. Every leftist I know believes that this outweighs all other issues and all of them are looking to punish Horwath for he partisanship and her increasingly right-leaning language. Whether Ron is correct to letter or not probably doesn’t matter. I suggest that the NDP will suffer a terrible electoral loss and Horwath will resign the day after the event.

  • It’s an utter fallacy that the Ontario Liberal party is to the left of Horwath’s NDP. Check out CBC Vote Compass.

    Andrea promises to stop Liberal cuts to welfare and disability and index rates to inflation.

    She also offers tax fairness: cancelling Liberal corporate tax cuts for the rich of $2.4-billion a year. (The Liberals promise a 1% tax raise on the rich, a token measure.)

    Wynne has yet to deliver on anything progressive. She abandoned the NDP idea of home care for seniors legislated in her 2013 budget.

    No doubt there’s a lot of politicking going on, especially from the Toronto Star trying to absurdly portray the NDP as “right wing”. But Layton and Mulcair show that Andrea is right to represent both centrist and left-leaning voters in a big tent party to get the most accomplished. A left-wing voice consistently ignored by parties with power does no one any good.

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