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Big Canada vs Small Canada

Thursday May 24, 2012

Right now, a group of expat Canadians are suing the Federal government to have their voting rights restored.  You can find the news here.

Most Canadians probably aren’t even aware that once you have spent five years abroad you are no longer eligible to vote in Federal elections.  I certainly wasn’t when I went abroad in the early part of the last decade.

There are currently, by most estimates, about a million people with Canadian citizenship living abroad.  There are probably Canadians living in almost every country on Earth.  While many are people who immigrated to Canada and obtained Canadian citizenship and then returned to their countries of origin, many more are people born in Canada and raised here, who go abroad for a variety of reasons.

I was one of them.  In my case, I went for no great career opportunity or even a specific interest in the culture of my destination, I merely went for the experience of it, it seemed like (and was largely) a grand adventure.  I was only gone for two years, although during that time I did discover what a painful process it is to vote from overseas.

On Twitter, I happened to catch a conversation between Adam Dormus and gregory alan elliott (both are well worth being followed, by the way) that once again brought the issue of Michael Ignatieff’s status as a long-term expatriate status up again.

I felt compelled to speak out on the issue, both as a former expat myself and as a former Liberal.  Twitter, unfortunately, is a medium that does not encourage a lot of nuance or explanation and there is much to be said on this subject.

I did not support Michael Ignatieff for the leadership of the Federal Liberals and I strongly disapproved of the process by which he was anointed leader after only a short time in politics.  I found Bob Rae to be a more compelling choice (perhaps a sure sign of my eventual socialist conversion) and I was dismayed by his immediate disavowal of the proposed Liberal/NDP Coalition agreement.

From the beginning I believed he was the wrong person to lead the Opposition against the Conservatives and despite their relentless attacks upon him, he continued the Liberals unofficial propping up of the Conservative government.

Despite that, I never once considered him to be ineligible for the highest office in the land due to his work abroad.

The Conservative Party’s attacks on him for being a successful expatriate and returning to Canada to pursue a political career struck me very personally.  While I slowly drifted away from the Liberals for a variety of reasons, not the least being Mr Ignatieff’s contention that only he and Stephen Harper were actually in the contest to become Prime Minister, the Conservative Party’s attacks alienated me and many other Canadians in a fundamental way.

One in five Canadians were born abroad these days.  That will likely be one in four in years to come.  One million Canadian citizens live abroad.

The future of Canada is a Canada made up of global citizens.  People who compete with the best of the best.  People who have a choice of citizenships.

This is the real test that we will face as a country going into the future and it’s a test that the Conservative Party as it exists now has fundamentally failed.  Are we a Big Canada or are we a Small Canada?

More than symbolic issues like the monarchy, this Small Canada attitude that preyed upon xenophobia and attacked success (in our supposed brave new Conservative Canada no less) smacks of a colonial mentality.  Stay home, don’t make waves.

On my blog I’ve been talking a lot about a new political paradigm for this country and how the political party I support, the New Democrats, can make that happen.  We can talk a lot about the structural changes that need to happen in our institutions to make them more responsive, make them more participatory and less confrontational, but we cannot forget that no institutional change will work unless there is a change in the mentality too.

A Big Canada, a country that is open to world, a country that is of the world, whose citizens embrace all of the opportunities of the world and who can bring that knowledge and experience home can be a place that can do more than just be a good place to live, have families, work and build a life.

A Big Canada can lead the world.

There were lots of legitimate reasons why Canadians chose other political parties than the Liberals in the last election.  There were lots of reasons why Canadians did not agree with Mr Ignatieff’s policies or his leadership.

But every time it was reduced to a soundbite criticizing his time abroad, it diminished this country’s future potential.  It said to every Canadian who chose Canada, as immigrants and former expats do, that they were unworthy.

If we embrace the Small Canada mentality, that is the message that we are sending.  And all of the bright, talented people, whether born here or abroad, will look to choose a different country, one that will welcome them.

It’s our choice, which will it be?


So, What Now? Part Two: Ending the Cynicism

Wednesday May 16, 2012

The next essay in my series on next steps for Lead Now and electoral cooperation supporters within the NDP.  Apologies for the delay in posting, as I noted earlier, a personal crisis has delayed these postings.  I look forward to your comments!

As we look to the future as members of Canada’s opposition party and as social democrats, what do we see?  A future of the NDP supplanting the Liberals permanently as the leading opposition party and occasional alternate government?  A future of the NDP becoming this country’s new natural governing party?  A future beholden to all the same interest groups and systemic issues that turn Canadians off of politics?

A future where we will one day be just as corrupted by power as the Liberals and Conservatives have been?

I am a New Democrat and committed to establishing a New Democrat led government but the NDP’s appeal lies not just in its policies but in its approach and its attitude. I did not join the NDP in order to simply recreate a re-branded Liberal party. I do not believe that is what Canadians want.

The cynicism that has marked Canadian politics of late must end.  This is how we begin to offer a positive new vision for Canadians.

End of an Era 

When historians look back on the political era that began in 1993 and hopefully will end in 2015, they will call this the Chretien-Harper era. These two Prime Ministers are far more alike than most give them credit for. In particular, they have both embraced a ‘no-holds barred’ tactical style that heavily alienated their opponents. Although ideologically I personally may have been more comfortable with Jean Chretien, the damage done by his premiership has led to the rise of Stephen Harper and set the stage for ever-increasing rounds of fiercer battles over smaller and smaller policy differences.

Let’s recap some of the similarities between their two premierships:

  • Both won majorities on popular vote totals that were less than 40% and then claimed that these represented mandates from Canadians to govern as they saw fit without restraint.
  • Both used divisive rhetoric pitting region versus region, frequently in east vs west battles, but also exploiting linguistic divisions.
  • Both used divisive tactics against their opposition, allowing them to achieve their ‘majorities’ on the backs of a largely divided opposition.
  • Both used and abused the powers of the Prime Minister’s office to bypass Parliament.
  • Both whipped their MPs to an unprecedented extent.
  • Both of them achieved their majorities coinciding with the collapse of one of the old style brokerage parties.
  • Both routinely accused their opponents of being ‘unCanadian’
  • Both claimed to exclusively speak for all Canadians
  • Both claimed that only their values represented ‘true Canadian values’

There can be no denying that Stephen Harper has taken many of these traits to their next logical step, beyond what Chretien ever endorsed.   That being said, Stephen Harper was arguably driven to his current position by what happened in Parliament, particularly in the early years of his first government.

Stephen Harper has been a keen student of Jean Chretien and he has learned his lessons all too well.  In the era of ideological parties, the friendly dictatorship is becoming intolerable and leading to new rounds of divisive partisan spite.

New Democrats have an opportunity to end this cycle of division before it spirals into an unrelenting war.

Principles for a New Paradigm

If there is to be a new political paradigm for this country we must first establish some guiding principles for what we hope to offer to Canadians.

  • All Canadians deserve a seat at the table
  • A government must have the support of 50%+1 of the electorate
  • Every Canadian deserves a local representative of their interests in Ottawa
  • Every region of Canada deserves appropriate representation
  • Canada’s First Nations deserve appropriate representation
  • We are all responsible for our national well-being

These are the basic, guiding principles that should be the basis for governing this country, if we are to create a new paradigm.  It must be a paradigm that is based upon democracy, cooperation, and inclusion.  It must speak directly to the heart of the issues that have arisen in the 2 decades since the 1993 election that are undermining Canadian democracy and will eventually undermine our national unity and economy.

These principles also offer an optimistic vision for New Democrats to offer, an alternative to the harsh partisan rhetoric.

Although electoral cooperation is now not on the agenda for the NDP or for any other party, we remain the political party that has most embraced coalition opportunities, the party that has reached out to other parties more often than not.

Lead Now supporters and other pro-cooperation forces within the NDP can still pursue our ultimate goals, a Canadian government that is representative, responsive and respectful.  We can do that by continuing to articulate these critical principles, by holding the NDP to its promise of proportional representation and by embracing Jack Layton’s unrelenting optimism.

A Progressive or Conservative Canada?

Starting from the beginning we have to review how our democratic institutions in this country are working.  A new paradigm will require different behaviour from our politicians of all political stripes.  It will mean embracing new parliamentary practices.

It will mean doing things differently.

Proportional representation has been one of the stated goals of Lead Now and for many Lead Now supporters.  The idea has been largely driven by the idea that proportional representation will mean that a government will be formed by progressive forces in Canada, instead of by a Conservative party with a plurality of votes.

But as we have noted, not all of the political parties that are called ‘progressive’ necessarily fall into that structure.  And creating a political structure to ensure that one party never forms a government is dangerous and risky.  It presumes that we can ensure that an entire segment of our population has no right to participate in the political process beyond opposition.

I don’t want to live in Canada that aims to cut off an avenue of legitimate democratic participation.

Political parties that are in power for long periods of time invariably become corrupt and moribund.  This can happen to any political party, even the NDP.  Party members are often themselves unable to prevent it.  Periods in opposition can be healthy and necessary for a party to rejuvenate.

I would even argue that because the United States almost always features Republicans and Democrats governing together in some capacity without any stretches of genuinely ‘being in opposition’ that this has led to the long-term and deep systemic corruption that marks the American political system.

In order for our positive message to genuinely reach all Canadians it must not be a message of inclusion for all of those we define as ‘progressives.’  It must be a message that offers the opportunity of inclusion to many Conservative voters.  We cannot frame our message as one that is designed to permanently exclude Conservative voices from our new ‘Progressive Canada.’ We cannot frame our institutions with that intent.

This is just as bad as creating a ‘Conservative Canada.’

Next Up: So, What Now? Squaring the Circle, Reforming Our Institutions and NDP Policy

BC Liberals Desperately Seeking to Re-brand

Monday May 14, 2012

I’m back from my break from posting, a bit longer than I expected to be away.  But I’m eager to rejoin this country’s political debate and I’ve fortunately been able to get a lot of new material ready to go forward with.  But first let’s begin with Christy Clark and the hapless BC Liberals:

As noted by OpenFile here: OpenFile Vancouver the BC Liberals are seeking voter input including on a new, more inclusive name.  I wonder how the existing BC Liberals feel about that, considering this is the name they’ve won three terms on.

Bill Tieleman’s excellent blog post on the danger of changing names can be found here:  It’s good reading and it’s worth checking out no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

Anyhow, this got me to thinking some.  Since “everything” is on the table, except for Christy Clark’s leadership, the new party ought to include her name.  After all, we all remember those advertisements where her first name was much, much bigger than the name ‘Liberals.’  It’s all about Christy after all.

Since she’s been going on so much about the ‘free-enterprise coalition’ that the BC Liberals supposedly represent, I figured the new party should be named a coalition.  Especially since a coalition is often a temporary alliance of convenience, that seems to fit what the BC Liberals have become.  And the last party that was named an ‘Alliance’ worked out so well too.

The last bit didn’t really come until I happened upon the comments on OpenFile and saw one after mine, reminding me again that when Christy Clark talks about a ‘free-enterprise coalition’ she really means a government that serves big business’ interests.

I knew I had it then, the new name for the BC Liberals: the Christy Clark Corporate Coalition of British Columbia.  Can also be known as the 4Cs.

It embodies everything that the BC Liberals have become under Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, a vehicle for self-aggrandizement and corporate interests.  It also has the benefit of providing truth in advertising.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, British Columbia’s Christy Clark Corporate Coalition!

A Brief Break

Thursday April 12, 2012

Do to a personal emergency, I’m afraid my postings here have been slightly delayed.  I’ll be back soon with the follow ups to my previous postings.

Thanks for your patience.

British Columbia: Stuck on the Brink

Wednesday April 4, 2012

Its been over a year now since Christy Clark became the leader of the BC Liberals and Premier of British Columbia and it has not been a good year for her, for the Liberals or for the Province.  There have been few successes on any front for the BC Liberals, the economy has remained largely stagnant and the government disorganized and unmotivated.  Her vapid leadership has been replete with errors and stumbles, with cursory attempts to hide them behind a veil of shallow boosterism.  It’s been unusually bad, even by the already tepid standards of the BC Liberals.

Third Term Blues 

More than one commentator has noted that Ms Clark seems to have no idea what to do with her premiership.  Having won the job, she seems to have not put any thought into what she actually wants to do with it.  More than that, the BC Liberals do not have any idea as to what they want to do with government for the remainder of their term.  They seem to have no agenda, no plans, and no will to make any.  They appear to only be interested in waiting out the clock and drawing their salaries until the next election.

This is a pretty typical malaise for a government in its third term of office.  Many elected members are considering stepping down after serving in government for multiple terms.  Throw in some scandals and policy failures and you have a caucus that is low on energy and enthusiasm.  Add in the departure of an unpopular leader who overstayed his welcome and you have a recipe for a government that doesn’t have a clue as to what to do and doesn’t feel like doing all that much anyway.

It takes dynamic leadership to break out of this and go onto a new term and as we’re learning, Christy Clark is anything but dynamic as Premier.  Her successful leadership bid offered the opportunity for renewal, however, she seems instead to have engaged in a public relations operation trying to re-brand her tired party, rather then re-build it.

There have been a number of recent polls showing that the BC Liberals are losing ground, with a substantial amount of their support defecting to the recently revived BC Conservatives.  The Conservatives are being lead by John Cummins, a former Reform/Alliance/Conservative MP.  As an MP he was of little note or importance and since becoming Leader of the BC Conservatives, he has primarily gained media attention for his controversial and outdated social conservative views.

The Conservatives are primarily benefiting from being the default right wing alternative to the Liberals.  The conservative side of the Liberal coalition is defecting to them, as dramatically represented by John van Dongen recent crossing of the floor.  Right now, they are serving as a convenient placeholder for voters angry and frustrated with the Liberals and who are too right wing to ever support the NDP.

A Re-Marriage of Inconvenience Ends in a Messy Divorce 

The question facing most conservatives in BC right now is pretty straightforward: do they stick it out with this “free enterprise” coalition with right wing liberals under the banner of the BC Liberal Party or do we make a break for it and have a go under their own banner.  The calculation then is simple: what are the odds of the BC Liberals getting re-elected under these conditions?  And the answer is pretty low.  Third term governments almost always face steep re-election odds.  Throw in listless leadership and it’s a good bet the NDP are going to form the next government no matter what.  So, why not take a chance on a BC Conservative party?  And if it turns out that the NDP mismanages the economy over the course of its term in office, then they can ride to the rescue in five years and possibly win government.

BC politics seems to go through this story over and over again.  A coalition of conservatives and centre right Federal Liberals forms a government under a common banner out of fear of the dreaded socialists.  They govern for a few terms before the inevitable scandals and weariness of the coalition divides it and the dreaded socialists take power.  The old banner is swept aside, the coalition re-coalesces under a new banner and new leadership and then they re-take power from the socialists who stole it.  Rinse and repeat.

If British Columbia follow this pattern again perhaps this time around this coalition will re-form under the banner of the BC Conservatives, by convincing enough liberals that they would manage the economy well and avoid touchy social issues.  However, Mr Cummins’ controversies seem to have been targeted to ensure that the social conservative audiences would get the message that he was one of them.  The possibility exists that this was done intentionally to break off the social conservatives as phase one of a plan to break up the Liberal coalition.  Phase two would then involve convincing enough additional BC voters to support them on economic matters, allowing the conservatives to dominate a new right wing coalition.

Certainly  the recent success of the Federal Conservatives augurs well for this strategy.  A similar approach of micro targeting and moderating just enough may pull enough right wing Liberals into their fold in 2017.  Alternatively a minority win in 2017 may work out even better should the  Liberals hold the balance of power.  Such a scenario would likely allow  them to pursue their fiscal and economic agenda and avoiding the messy  compromises needed on the social front.  They could also advance the  social agenda via the levers available to the executive.  This would be the Harper strategy redux.

In either case, this strategy could lead to a new conservative governing party that is less burdened by the uncomfortable compromises of this most recent iteration of right wing government in BC.

My Kingdom for an Agenda   

These scenarios though are contingent upon the Liberals continued collapse, providing effective opposition over the next term of the Legislature and a failure in economic policy by a hypothetical NDP government. Right now, the Conservatives benefit from remaining largely inoffensive and simply drawing in the support already bleeding out of the Liberals.   It is an easy path to follow while they plot their moves for the next  Legislature.  Being the generic right wing alternative party can be winning political strategy for the Conservatives in the next election, especially if their goals are modest and targeted.  The Harper lessons of incrementalism seem to inform much of the BC Conservatives plans.

Ms Clark has recently declared that her number one priority is to save BC’s “free enterprise” coalition under its existing banner.  Prior to this declaration she has been actively courting the conservative component of the coalition and drawing staff and inspiration from the Federal Conservatives.  However, her efforts only seem to be hastening the decline of the BC Liberal Party.

Maintaining this coalition is not a governing agenda.  It is a political agenda for the party and party members and as Leader of the Liberal Party, she is perfectly entitled to do that.  However, as head of the government, she also needs a governing agenda and thus far she has been sorely lacking on this.  She now faces the double challenges of running the Province and effectively re-building her political party.

Opportunity in Opposition

To save the right wing coalition that makes up the BC Liberals her best bet was to take her chances on an election last year.  Given the damage that had been done, even with a shiny new leader, the BC Liberals were facing tough odds of remaining in government.  Ms Clark’s stronger and better known public profile, would likely still have not been enough to overcome the Liberals major disadvantages going into an election.  However, it would almost certainly have mitigated the damage and while risking some losses to the Conservatives, likely would have held the bulk of the Liberals coalition together.  The Liberals would have been in a place to begin a re-building and renewal process while in Opposition.

This is often a difficult thing for a governing party to accept: that a spell in opposition may be the best thing for them.  For Liberals, of all varieties in Canada, it is almost impossible to contemplate.  Even now, the Federal Liberals have only embraced a re-building process after falling to third place and despite obvious warning signs that the party was in serious trouble.  In this Ms Clark, despite her right wing turn remains at heart an archetypal Federal Liberal.

While I have no doubt that rank and file Federal Liberals genuinely support their party’s centrist and brokerage approach, all too often the appearance that the leadership provides is one that places power over principle.  With no agenda, no plans, and her sharp sudden rightward turn, she is living up to that stereotype.  Instead of bringing conservatives back into the fold, she is giving them more reason to flee and leaving the liberal side in disarray.  Whereas a snap election loss might have allowed her to keep her position as party Leader, she now faces the prospect of losing everything in 2013.

It’s Still the Economy  

Throughout all of this drama the NDP has been largely content to sit back and watch the Liberals come apart.  Despite their own leadership troubles, the NDP have managed to successfully position themselves to take power in the next election.  Moreover, Adrian Dix has taken a steady and methodical approach to positioning the party and working to avoid controversy.  The more the public is focused on the failings of the Liberals and the more the right wing coalition frays, the more opportunities are presented for the NDP.

While the next election will not simply hand the reigns of power over to the NDP without effort, the NDP’s true challenges are post election.  Should the party succeed in taking power, as seems very likely, the challenge will be to begin to address the economic issues that the NDP is often vulnerable on.  An NDP government will need to address the dual challenges of resuming economic growth and addressing economic inequality, no mean feat.  In addition, the new government will also have its social and environmental commitments to meet.

These are big challenges but they also represent big opportunities for the NDP.  The lack of real gains for BC’s working and middle classes and the persistent inequality of economic growth during the Liberals reign has given the NDP a winning economic issue.  Succeeding on this front opens the doors for BC’s New Democrats to neutralize the so-called “free enterprise” coalition, by offering moderate left wing government that delivers economic prosperity.  Centrist liberals may move their support to the NDP if they are re-assured that an NDP government can deliver on addressing inequality without unduly compromising growth or engaging in excessive anti-business activities.  It may be a difficult balance to achieve, but the rewards of a long term in government will be well worth it.

A Year of Stagnation 

It is often said that Opposition parties don’t so much win elections as Governments lose them.  In the case of the BC Liberals, their own worst enemies are themselves.  Adrian Dix is a smart, capable politician, applying a strong, methodical approach to building up the NDP for the next election.  However, as always, timing counts in politics and he has had the good fortune to catch the BC Liberals at a point when their own missteps and dysfunctions have finally caught up with them.

In thirteen months when the next election is held, Christy Clark will have been Premier for more than 2 years.  No one can be Premier that long and not be forced to run on their record.  Her record thus far has been unimpressive, with few achievements and substantial missteps.  This next year in office she is facing ongoing unresolved labour unrest, an economic recovery that is anemic, the task of relaunching the PST and a caucus that is listless and alienated.  Even with a clear agenda, her ability to implement it would be severely curtailed.

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that enough MLAs would defect from the Liberals to topple their government before the fixed date of the next election.  Nor is it likely that Ms Clark will call an early election even if she experiences a stunning reversal in the polls.  Bill 22, the legislation ending job action by the BC Teachers’ Federation, seems likely to be the last major piece of legislation pursued by this government before the next election.  As such, BC now faces a long year of running out the electoral clock.

Next Monday: So What Now? part two, where do supporters of electoral cooperation go in the NDP.

Next Wednesday: By-elections in BC, a dry run for next year’s election?

So, What Now? Lead Now Supporters in the NDP

Monday April 2, 2012

Now that the NDP Leadership Convention is over, many who supported electoral cooperation are wondering what their future options are given the election of Thomas Mulcair, who is adamantly opposed to any electoral cooperation.  In particular members who joined via Lead Now may be wondering if they have a role in the New Democratic Party going forward.

I have been giving this much thought and for me, the answer is very much that yes there is a role for supporters like us in the NDP.

While the electoral cooperation issue may not be gaining any traction any time soon, the NDP still represents the most viable vehicle for achieving electoral reform, one of the key goals of Lead Now and other cooperation advocates.  The NDP has a realistic chance of forming the next government and it is committed to proportional representation.

However, I didn’t join the NDP just because they had a leadership convention coming up or because I’m determined to do anything to bring down Stephen Harper’s government.  I joined because it’s also the best match for my political beliefs, because I am a social democrat.

Electoral Cooperation Reality Check

All social democrats are progressives but not all progressives are social democrats.  This is a critically important distinction.

It seems to be an article of faith for many in the progressive parties that a majority of Canadians are progressives.  I’m not entirely sure that this is an accurate construction, as I think a lot of people supporting the progressive parties would actually count themselves as some sort of moderate middle.  Even the non-Conservative parties aren’t exactly clear that they are all under some sort of progressive banner.

The Liberals for example, are clearly not a “progressive party” in and of themselves.  They’re a centrist brokerage party with a progressive wing.  That wing seems to be in ascendance but that’s their usual pattern when in opposition.  They’ve had a bad habit of campaigning on the left and then governing on the right and their pseudo-participation in the two Conservative minorities shows that they are not strictly a progressive party.  Similarly, watching Liberals flop around trying to come up with some sort of ideological positioning for their party that doesn’t sound like a desperate grab-bag of ideas to re-take power, will pretty quickly convince you that they don’t quite fit as a strictly progressive party.

It should also be noted that the main reason the progressive wing seems to be running the show for the Liberals is that it’s the wing wasn’t completely shot off during their downward crash.

In a similar vein, the Bloc Quebecois, as a party primarily focused on Quebec issues and with a preference for separatism, doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of progressive in my opinion.  Left leaning, with progressive tendencies, absolutely.  But given that their ultimate goal is to take Quebec out of Canada, at the end of the day they’re not going to be all that supportive of policies that make Canada a better place for Quebeckers.

So it’s not simply a matter of adding up all the non-Conservative voters and declaring it a win.

Bring Some Friends Over

Anyone who was paying attention already knew that the Cullen Plan wasn’t as simple as taking the non-Conservative vote totals, mixing with some common goals and voila new government!

The Cullen Plan was actually a very bottom up, locally based cooperation plan that gave local riding associations that option to take up a common cause with the local associations of other parties against a Conservative incumbent.  It would have been a one time deal to create conditions where by in future elections progressive parties would be competing on a fairer playing field with the Conservatives.

The ultimate goal is to have a Parliament that more accurately reflects the voting intentions of the public.

With electoral cooperation off the table though for the time being, advocates for cooperation within the NDP should now turn to what is happening inside the party,  We can continue to advocate for cooperation and cooperative parties within the party.  We can also work to ensure that the NDP remains committed to proportional representation and push the party towards a speedy implementation of a plan once it achieves power.

We can also work within the party to create a governing progressive coalition.  There are two viable avenues:

  1. Encourage the NDP to broaden its ideological base to include more Progressives outside of the social democratic base.

  2. Convince more Progressives that they should be social democrats as well or perhaps already are.

Strategy number 1 seems to be what many feared Thomas Mulcair was going to do, when in actuality I would suspect number 2 is going to be closer to the reality.

In either case, new voters are going to be drawn into the NDP from two main pools: those of other parties with progressive voters and those who are not current voters.  Both are pools where cooperation advocates can be instrumental in helping the party to reach out, to broaden its appeal.

Cooperation advocates can reach out to their Liberal and Green friends and neighbours in a way that other partisans may not have as much success with.  By explaining what their support for the NDP can offer for Canada and why maybe the should consider voting for us in the next election.

We can explain why a vote for the NDP will lead to a fairer Canada for people of political persuasions.  We can explain how proportional representation will help Canada transition to a more cooperative political environment.

We can still offer them an avenue to a new political paradigm.

Anger is Never Enough

There are many who harbour hopes that the robocalls scandal will ultimately lead to by-elections or maybe even a new general election and that will result in toppling the current Conservative government.  The unfortunate reality though is that right now an election is still three years out.

Anger and outrage can only carry a party and a movement so far.  While dedicated partisans and activists can be carried a long way by anger, for ordinary people, they will need to be offered something more than frustrations when the next election comes.  It’s not enough to be against the bad guys.

We have to offer Canadians something to vote for.

The best way to do that is to stay within the NDP and continue to encourage it to develop policies and options that will reach disaffected voters.  When the next election comes around we can offer them a lot more than our rage at the current regime.

We can offer Canadians hope that their future will be a better one.

Check back on Monday April 9th for Part Two on a New Political Paradigm

And on Wednesday, April 4th check for my take on the current political situation here in British Columbia.

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi!

Monday April 2, 2012

As I am sure many of my readers are aware, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has won a seat in Myanmar’s (Burma) Parliament, a major step forward in her quest to bring democracy to her country.  Myanmar, also known as Burma, remains a military dictatorship, although, unexpectedly the ruling Generals have begun a series of reforms.  One result has been the opportunity for Ms Suu Kyi to run for a seat in Parliament as a member of the leading opposition party.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been a personal hero of mine.  Her struggle to bring democracy to Myanmar has cost her dearly.  She has spent much of the last two decades under house arrest.  Her husband, Dr Michael Aris, who remained in the United Kingdom, saw her only sporadically after her return to Myanmar.  When he was ill with cancer, he was denied a visa to visit Ms Suu Kyi.  The ruling Generals instead attempted to use the opportunity to force her to leave the country.  Dr Aris died in 1999.  The last time he had seen Ms Suu Kyi was Christmas of 1995.

In light of her long struggle and given that this still only one step on a what is still going to be a very long road for Myanmar, I am sending her my congratulations on this win and my best wishes and hopes for her and her country.