Monday, May 2, 2011

Orange Crush

In the spirit of the Andrew Coyne’s somewhat controversial endorsement of the Liberals and criticism of the Harperite Party of Canada-this ain’t your old man’s Tory party-I will now make a rather shocking endorsement of my own: I will be voting NDP!

Not for the first time, I hasten to add. Actually in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a dyed in the wool Dipper and have been since 2004 (the year that I joined). I have always believed that this was a party that had the potential to unite the left across the country, even before the orange wave (or orange crush, if you prefer) made such an allegiance fashionable. The latter was especially true in my native Montreal, where for years the party was a regarded as being something of a fringe outfit, until 2007 and a monumental breakthrough in the formerly Liberal fortress of Outremont, in the form of a blue chip NDP candidate named Thomas Mulcair. His arrival on the scene (from Charest’s government) brought about a rebranding of the party in the eyes of, first the media, and then the average joe voter, who previously though that he only had a choice between the old school my-way-or-the-highway Trudeau federalism of the Liberals, on the one hand, and the obstructionist sovereigntist party of the Bloc (never mind the Tories, they have been MIA in Qu├ębec since the Mulroney years). Along came Mulcair/Layton’s (the Batman & Robin of Canadian politics) vision of asymmetrical federalism which supports greater autonomy for the province without compromising on national unity, and all of sudden Quebecker’s started to take notice. What we’re seeing now in the polls, are simply the fruits of this refreshing progressive, intelligent discourse on the place that Quebec should occupy in confederation.

Now we see the rest of the country jumping on board the orange bandwagon in seemingly record numbers (I know I’m tempting the political gods, as I write this) and many pundits are saying that this is apparently a spill-over from the rise of the party in Quebec. Quebeckers have historically expressed their collective political will en masse, and, by all accounts, this appears to be one of those historic tipping points (as I write this Nanos wrote: “the separatist BQ on Monday will be dealt a resounding rebuke from Quebecers registering their worst showing in BQ history”). Quebec has a funny way of communicating with the rest of the country. In a roundabout way, it looks as though Quebeckers may be indicating to the rest of the country that they are ready once again, to try and reconcile their political differences with them. It seems that this election, which nobody wanted, much less though would usher in a sea change of the political landscape, has proven all the pundits wrong ( including your truly). The country seems to be fed up of the business as usual on the hill and is increasingly looking for an alternative to the Liberal/Tory same old story of Canadian politics.

Jack Layton did not overhaul his campaign platform, change his image or give his party a radical makeover, since the last election. He simply carried on doing what he has done since he came to be the leader of the NDP back in ’03: promoting a moderate and responsible socially democratic vision of the country. In other words, he simply had to be himself.

So vote for the Grits if you think they represent a “change”, even though they have been in power for 75 of the last 100 years. Vote for the Tories, if you think it’s the economy stupid, and don’t care or don’t understand the importance of parliamentary democracy. Vote Bloc if you couldn’t care less about the rest of the country. But I’m sticking with the NDP today.

The Future is Unwritten