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Budget 2012: Conservative War of Attrition on the Young

Friday March 30, 2012

Well, they did one thing right: they ditched the penny.  Good riddance, it’s expensive and largely pointless.  Phasing it out is long overdue.

Beyond that, the Conservatives’ 2012 Federal Budget is all bad news.

It’s not as extreme as it could have been but that shouldn’t be as big a surprise as it seems to be to some. Stephen Harper has been busy trying to convince everyone that he’s a moderate Conservative and positioning the Conservatives has Canada’s natural governing party.  Incrementalism is an important tool towards that end.

Slow Boat to Conservative Nirvana

It’s been obvious that the Conservatives were adopting an incrementalist approach almost from day one of their election to a weak minority in 2006.  Over a long period of time this will take us to their Conservative nirvana of a small Federal government, low taxes, few benefits and unrestrained businesses.

That they plan to largely place the costs on the people who will likely never be able to access existing benefits isn’t exactly news either.  The older cohorts who tend to vote for the Conservatives will continue to receive all the benefits that they have always had.

The young will pick up the transition costs and then have to spend their later years living in the Conservatives’ small government nirvana.

Blatant Generational Warfare

By now, it should be obvious to all that I’m opposed to the Conservatives economic principles and that I don’t buy into the “small government” nonsense that they spout.  However, they have won a majority government so I’m not really all that shocked that they’re going to govern from that philosophy, discredited as it is.

What’s really appalling is that with this budget, Generational Warfare is now the policy of this Government.

While it is incremental, everything about this budget adds up to a pattern of expecting young people to pay for their elders existing benefits, receive less benefits themselves, have less security that programs will exist and have to also save more for their own retirements.  This represents a massive financial squeeze on cohorts already facing heavy economic burdens.

For example, the OAS adjustments will only affect everyone 54 and younger.  Almost the entire boomer cohort will therefore have access to the existing benefits, despite lifespans much longer then their parents, while younger people pay the tab.  They will not have to bear any of the costs of transitioning to a higher retirement age.  This is being done to insure the program is “sustainable,” even though the evidence shows the program is sustainable as is.

Deferring Expenses to the Next Generation

In a similar vein, public service pensions are going to be restructured to “defined contribution” plans, again primarily affecting young people joining the civil service, while leaving existing civil servants with their defined benefits plans.

The previously announced changes to the Health Transfers are also set to occur not long after Boomers begin to retire, setting the stage for tax increases, particularly in have not provinces, that will largely fall upon younger cohorts.

As for the environment, the current “plan” appears to be based on the naive belief that the resource boom will continue indefinitely.  This belief, as many Albertans will tell you, easily catches on with politicians and usually has catastrophic consequences for the public.  Moreover, the budget sets the country on the course of rapidly exploiting natural resources now and in the near future to continue to sustain boomer benefits and entitlements.

This will leave younger cohorts to pay for the environmental clean up as they reach their senior years.

Where’s the Money Going?

Even though I disagree with their governing philosophy, it could be argued that things like raising the retirement age are not unreasonable with people living healthier, longer lives.  Similarly, attempting to contain health care costs is a reasonably policy objective.

However, instead of asking all generations to share in the costs of this, they have decided to simply pass them onto the young.

The Conservatives seem intent on withdrawing the Federal Government from social responsibilities, therefore in cannot be expected that the savings are going to be used to defray the social costs of these cuts.  Most likely the savings will be used to further reduce taxes and regulation on business, facilitating transfers to the top earners, and increasing inequality.

Easing the Burden?

If we’re going to be transitioning to this new society of low taxes and personal responsibility and fewer government supports, it would be logical to think that the Conservatives might want to address some of the problems facing those who are going to have to live in it.  Chronic youth unemployment and under-employment has been epidemic.

Yet what are young people getting out of this budget?  Not a damn thing.

There is one program to address youth unemployment that $50M adds up virtually nothing.  EI premiums are being increased, impacting those young people who have a job.  The Katimavik program is being cancelled outright.  There is no new funding for city infrastructure, where younger cohorts are more likely to live.  There is nothing to  address the mortgage and affordable housing crises which are disproportionately affecting the young.

There is no plan to begin creating a savings from our natural resource industries to provide long term financial security for our country.

Almost everything that has been cut disproportionately affects younger people, with the younger you are the more affected you are.  The environmental attacks are going to leave younger Canadians facing the clean up bills, in many cases just as they reach retirement ages themselves.  All of this will constrain the Federal Government from being able to respond to a possible social crisis of massive proportions in the future.

Youth Sold Down the River

The didn’t start this but they have accelerated it.  They don’t intend to deliver their own voters to their small government nirvana, but their children and grand children. Young people already pressed by difficult job markets, exorbitant housing costs and enormous student debt.  Already forced defer marriage and family life, many will now simply never have the opportunity for those significant stages in life.

Our elders will get to enjoy our quasi social democratic state, lowered taxes, and vote Conservative who will ensure their children will pay for it.  We will get to live without these benefits, paying higher taxes and costs to sustain them for others.  We will bear the costs of repairing the environmental damage and trying to save for our own retirements.

In Conservative land supposedly self responsibility is paramount.  With this budget, the Conservatives continue to commit the biggest sin of modern Conservatism: responsibility for thee but not for me.  Conservative supporters, largely found in older cohorts, will continue to receive almost all the benefits while passing the costs onto those most opposed to their discredited philosophy.

Canada’s children and grandchildren are losing this war of attrition, unable to gain meaningful employment, start families, have secure homes and secure futures.

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Winners and Losers: The Outcomes of the NDP Leadership Convention

Tuesday March 27, 2012

Now that the Leadership Convention is over for the New Democratic Party its time to reflect, build and plan for the future.  The outcome was, as many couldn’t help but remind us, pretty much in the bag for Thomas Mulcair who is now the Leader of the Official Opposition and the first Quebecker to lead the party.  He also has a very good chance of becoming the first NDP Prime Minister.  The Convention, despite its issues, appears to have achieved its goals and Mr Mulcair’s first moves as leader have been promising.

Winning Candidates

Obviously, the biggest winner of this process was Thomas Mulcair, who walked away with the big prize, the party leadership.  It’s a good thing too, because his convention performance was unsatisfactory to say the least.  His leadership showcase video was amateur at best, having the appearance of a quickly assembled power point put together by the office boy.  His entrance was excessive and unnecessary, his speech as a result was rushed.  His victory speech was also uninspiring to say the least.

Nonetheless despite these problems he has demonstrated a much better post-convention performance thus far.  His immediate post-convention interview with Peter Mansbridge went over much better than his speech.  His opening moves as NDP Leader and in the House of Commons have been smart moves, focusing on party unity and economic matters.  This effective start in the job, if maintained, will leave his convention performance quickly forgotten.

The next biggest winner was undeniably Nathan Cullen.  His speech at the beginning of the Leadership showcase was his campaign in miniature: it snuck up from nowhere, was substantive, passionate with no fluff and all but stole the show.  If the majority of the vote had not been locked in by the advance polls it would be interesting to see how Mr Cullen would have ultimately performed.  Nonetheless, his speech is the only one that has had any lasting traction or impact.  Mr Cullen has positioned himself very well in the party and we can continue to expect very good things from him in the future.  The ideas he espoused are not going away anytime soon.

Niki Ashton was also came out of this Convention a winner.  Her speech was passionate, honest, and by far the strongest one she had given in the campaign.  While she came in last and was knocked off after the first ballot, she never really had all that much chance of taking the leadership anyhow.  The campaign has obviously honed her skills and given her a new fan base (including myself) across the country.  She is in a very good position for the next leadership race and for a strong place in the party going forward.

The last of the candidates that undeniably came out ahead from the Convention was Martin Singh.  His obvious concession to Mr Mulcair obviously puts him in the new leader’s good books, especially considering he was the only candidate to do so.  However, beyond that, his leadership showcase, the South Park NDP story of Martin Singh and his son’s performance was a particularly charming piece of Canadiana.  It also provided a nice capstone to the leadership showcase and demonstrated his potential as a politician.

The Rest of the Candidates

Paul Dewar came out of the Convention with pretty much the same standing he came in with.  His speech was solid and if the rap performance was misplaced it didn’t undermine his standing.  He could have done better but overall he has done well and I expect to see good things from him in the future.

That brings us to the two candidates who came out of this Convention worse off then before, Peggy Nash and Brian Topp.

Peggy Nash’s leadership showcase was disappointing.  The media component was pedestrian as the others and her speech faced a similar problem as Mr Mulcair’s.  Ms Nash instead of rushing through though attempted to speak (and shout) over her cut off music. Declaring herself the ‘perfect candidate’ didn’t exactly sell her as a potential leader either. Her disappointing performance both in the showcase and votes has left her standing somewhat diminished.  Still as an important urban MP she can effectively bounce back from this loss.

By far though the biggest loser from this entire contest has been Brian Topp.  As the anointed successor, with the entire party establishment behind him, he had every advantage going into this race.  His partisans unleashed some fairly harsh language on Mr Mulcair to support their candidate.  Despite this the final contest was not even close and for such a ‘polarizing’ figure Mr Mulcair received a sizable number of second and third choice votes.

There simply was no widespread anti-Mulcair movement to rally around Mr Topp.  Add to that the implication in his speech that his opponents did not share the NDP’s social democratic values and a weak presentation (saying ‘he’s ready’ over and over again said exactly the opposite)  didn’t exactly add to his base of support.  Having let loose on Mr Mulcair and lacking a strong base of support he is now severely weakened in a party led by Mr Mulcair.  While both are making optimistic noises about Mr Topp running as a candidate for Parliament, no one is going to be stepping aside for him any time soon.  His future role in the party is undefined at this point.

A Successful Convention

Change and the need to modernize were definitely big winners in the Convention too.  The 1st and 3rd place rankings of the two candidates advocating change, indicated a substantial desire for a new direction by party members.  It’s becoming obvious that the NDP’s members are serious about challenging Stephen Harper for government in 2015.  They are no longer content to be Parliament’s “conscience.”

The NDP as a party are also clear winners from this convention.  Despite the problems the Convention had with the electronic voting system and that the majority of the vote was already locked in via the preferential advance ballots, the NDP Convention managed to generate much of the excitement and interest of a more typical party Convention.  The media coverage, despite the problems has been positive, and the Party clearly has enhanced its standing among Canadians.  Indeed, despite the difficulties of interim leadership by the inexperienced Nycole Turmel and the absence of so much of the Party’s talent for the leadership race, the Party has held its own in the polls.

Collateral Damage from the Convention

Unfortunately, things have not been completely rosy for other elements of the NDP.  Ed Broadbent has seriously damaged his reputation within the party and healing the rifts that he opened will take time.  It will be interesting to see how that unfolds over the coming months and years.

Another big loser was the process of Internet voting.  Given that the system was attacked from outside, the NDP will carefully need to reconsider its process.  While the one person, one vote principal is important to a modern party and embracing new technology can help fulfill that goal, some serious soul searching will need to be done about using Internet voting in the future.  Perhaps it is a tide that can not be turned back, but better security then will be a must.   As we learn more about what happened, the process will need to be refined and understood.

In a similar vein the Conservatives also came out of this Convention damaged.  The timing and nature of this online attack on the NDP right in the middle of the Robocalls scandal could not have been worse for the Conservatives.  The general public has already been primed to believe that they will cheat to disrupt their political opponents.  Regardless of who did it (and I personally do not think it was the Conservatives) they have undoubtedly added to the public perception of Conservatives as cheaters.  Whatever the outcome of the investigation, all too many citizens will link these incidents in their minds.

Similarly the Bob Rae Party…  Excuse me, I mean the Liberal Party and “interim” Leader Bob Rae have also been damaged by the NDP Convention.  Thomas Mulcair has already been an effective Parliamentarian and has the ability to be a very effective Opposition Leader, robbing Bob Rae of his status as Leader of the Unofficial Opposition.  Similarly, given that the Liberals appear set to crown another Leader rather than having an open and fair process, in stark contrast to NDP, the Liberals have once again confirmed in the minds of Canadians that they really don’t stand for all that much.  Which is disappointing.

Thomas Mulcair, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition 

Thus far Thomas Mulcair has hit the ground running.  He has opened his Leadership with an excellent first performance as Leader in the House and targeting the Conservatives on the important economic issues of the day is the best way for the NDP to establish credibility.  The Robocall scandal will handle itself for now and can be left to the rest of the front bench.

Many of his modernization ideas are important and having the conversation will benefit the NDP.  More over, a political party is never one man.  On those issues where we disagree (and I definitely disagree with him on some important issues) we still have the context of the party to work within.

At the end of the day, while all New Democrats hoped that it would be Jack Layton there, taking this government to task, Thomas Mulcair is a worthy successor.

BC Liberals Bid Farewell to John van Dongen

Tuesday March 27, 2012

Well, the big news today in British Columbia is that MLA John van Dongen is departing the BC Liberals to sit with the BC Conservatives.  While the news is causing a stir, its simply inevitable in a government that is as weak and floundering as much as Christy Clark’s Liberals.  Sadly, I doubt that enough Liberals though will defect to the Opposition benches to bring down the government prior to our scheduled election next year.

So in honour of John van Dongen’s departure from the BC Liberals I have launched a countdown clock to the next BC Election.  Its so that we can all remember just how little the Liberals are doing for us as they wait out the clock and wreck our province in the process.

Presenting, the BC Liberal Death Clock.

It’s the Greatest Show on Earth!

Monday March 26, 2012

Now that the New Democratic Party’s Leadership Convention is over, let’s take a moment to turn to the greatest spectator sport on Earth: the American Presidential race.

Oh it’s easy most years for us Canadians to sit up here and feel smug watching the antics of the world’s only schizophrenic superpower.

This year though, it’s practically effortless.

Let’s take a look at the Republican candidates for the job.  And I use ‘candidate’ in its broadest, loosest sense.  Really, they’re more like applicants.  Rejected applicants.

These are the guys that are left over after you go through and pick out all the good resumes.  And then you go through all the rest and pick out the decent ones.  And then you pick out the sorta okay ones.  And the ones you can maybe train.  Then you get to the ones submitted in crayon, or with a letter of recommendation from their mother, or the ones who sent in their poorly made scrapbooks.   After those ones, you get to this lot.

These guys are the guys left after you’ve weeded out everyone with even a shred of competence, skill or capability for the job.

God knows no one who can be described with words like “competent” or “capable” or “coherent” or “conscious” wants to lead the rabble that the Republican Party has become.

This parade of total losers can be divided into two groups: Mittens and Not-Mittens.

First off, there is perennial has-been Ricky “My Name Has Become Profanity” Santorum.  The current “not-Mittens” Ricky rather disastrously lost his senate seat back in 2006 due to his extremist views.   The obvious lesson of this massive, overwhelming defeat was to naturally become more extremist.

Despite the foothold he has gained in the wingnut segment of the party, he has been systematically alienating everyone else.  And I mean, everybody else.

His spectacular plan to overcome his deficiency of being a lousy candidate?

He is campaigning against porn and the pill.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the guy who’s already running in second place has decided that he is going to run against pornography and contraception.  The two things that have done more than anything else to grant sexual freedom to millions of Americans.

Almost every American man looks at porn.  Almost every American woman has used the pill.

We’re going to need to invent a new word to express the depth of stupidity here.

So, the other guy who was also “not-Mittens” for a while, he must have been at least kinda decent right?

Well that would be Newt “My Ego Knows No Bounds” Gingrich.  The only man in the universe who can make  a ‘sanctity of marriage’ argument with a straight face while on his third marriage to a former mistress.  His wife also looks like the fembot from Mars Attacks.

Newt can’t win.  His popularity has tanked and he hasn’t won a contest since his home state of Georgia.  He’s succeeded in seriously damaging South Carolina’s role in selecting Republican candidates and he’s confirmed that he’s more toxic than nuclear waste to most Americans.

I fully expect that the next time he tries to build a house, Greenpeace will show up sporting signs that say: “No Newt Disposal Sites!” & “This is a Newt-free Zone!” & “No More Newts.”

Despite the fact that almost everyone hates him, he’s staying in the race to attack Mittens.  He’s decided that the only way to save the Republican village is to destroy it.  And by destroy it, I mean drop a nuke on it from orbit.  Just to be sure.

And then maybe he’ll blow up the Earth afterwards too.   Good thing for him, his wife’s got that in with the Martians!

The last guy in the not-Mittens group is some cranky old fool from Texas that no one but a devoted few are paying any mind.  And rightfully so.

That brings us to Mittens.

Yes, when your Presidential candidate can be nicknamed after a woolly winter accessory, you know you’ve arrived.  Probably not anywhere near where you wanted to arrive, but you have arrived somewhere.

Mitt “Mittens” Romney has set out to prove to all the world that it is indeed possible to buy the American Presidency if you just spend enough money.  To help prove this, he has decided to spend the majority of his time at his beach house in California and instead has deployed an animatronic surrogate to campaign on his behalf.

The Fungineers who have designed the Mittbot reported that it was remarkably easy to create a 90% match to the candidate’s personality, given his plutocratic lack of human feeling.  This was easy to simulate with modern robotics.

Affectionately known around the office as “Mr Etch-a-sketch,” the Mittbot’s biggest challenge has not come from the other “so-called” competitors but from the previous iterations of the Mittbot.  Mittbot 7, the current version, has been struggling to wrap up the nomination despite the “bugs to be squashed” quality of his opponents.  Many attribute this poor adoption of Mittbot 7 by a general public as resulting from the failure of Mittbot Vista and the fact that Mittbot XP remains the standard for business use.

Problems have also cropped up from users with Mittbot 95 and 98, as well as outstanding issues from Mittbot 3.1 that have never been adequately addressed.

As of this writing, however, Mittens has decided to remain in seclusion and continue to deploy the Mittbot, confident that he can win the nomination when he completes his planned purchase of every advertising space in the continental United States.  With complete mastery of television, radio, newsprint, internet, billboards and transit advertising, as well as issuing to every other American a brand new Cadillac with a “Vote Mittens” wrap, he confidently expects to win a decisive 50.00000001% victory this November.

So my fellow Canucks, when we feel disheartened over the state of politics in our country, let us remember this: no matter how low we think things may have gone, the Americans will always show us how much lower it is possible to go.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on the Leadership Convention for Canada’s New Democrats and the new Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition Thomas Mulcair.

Congratulations to Thomas Mulcair!

Sunday March 25, 2012

Congratulations to Thomas Mulcair, the new leader of Canada’s New Democrats!  Congratulations to all of the leadership candidates who have all run great campaigns!  For New Democrats it is time for us to unite behind a new leader.  Those of us who supported others will now play an important role in continuing to support the policies that matter to us.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with my complete run down of the Convention.  The Leadership Convention and Campaign has been a terrific experience and now our real work begins to bring about an NDP government.

Congratulations again to Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition and the next Prime Minister of Canada!

2012 NDP Leadership Convention: What Really Matters

Wednesday March 21, 2012

The New Democratic Party is now only a few days away from its 2012 Leadership Convention to select a replacement for Jack Layton.  As we come up to the Convention, I wanted to share some last thoughts prior to the Convention commencing.

We Are All New Democrats 

The first and most important thing for all us to remember is that we are all New Democrats, we all share a commitment to the party and regardless of the outcome and where our preferred candidates end this campaign, our true adversary is not to be found within the confines of the party.  Unity, as a party is going to be very important and there have been some unfortunate statements made (Ed Broadbent, I’m talking to you) that both undermine the party’s sense of unity and its willingness to accept a new leader.

Whomever is chosen will have a big job ahead of them.  The country doesn’t have the luxury of allowing Stephen Harper’s government to run unchecked, yet finding effective ways of counteracting the Conservative majority is going to be extremely difficult.  As such, by the time of the 2015 election we must be prepared to take government.

We have a duty to do the best thing for our country.  I believe that every New Democrat will have that foremost on their minds when they make their selection.  We also have a responsibility to Canadians to prevent a viable governing alternative to the Harper Conservatives when the next election comes, especially one that does not embrace the ‘total war’ tactics that have defined this new Conservative party.

My Selection for Canada’s New Democrats

New Democrats are blessed this election to have some genuinely fantastic candidates to lead the party and hopefully to become the next Prime Minister.  All of them would be substantially better than our current Prime Minister.

I am supporting Nathan Cullen for the leadership.  I have previously outlined many of my reasons, including that I feel he speaks for and can access the youth vote effectively, he can re-engage disenchanted voters, his openness to new ideas (such as electoral cooperation) and his willingness to embrace a new political paradigm.

I believe a new political paradigm is essential, not just to defeat Stephen Harper, not just to bring about an NDP government but to bring a long term, permanent and lasting change in our public discourse.  A new political paradigm will allow us to move our country towards a social democracy, while giving all citizens a voice at the table.  This is essential for the achievement of the NDP’s fundamental goals.

I believe Nathan Cullen is the person who can open the door to a new political paradigm and lead New Democrats to government.

A Fantastic Group of Candidates

We also have some other terrific choices for the leadership of our party.  As my second choice, I have listed Peggy Nash.  She is an excellent leader and was a close second to Nathan Cullen in my deliberations.  She has shown a considerable amount of openness to new ideas and she has prioritized the important question of electoral reform.  As an urban MP she offers an opportunity for New Democrats to broaden and deepen our urban and suburban bases.  Urban and suburban voters represent one our best avenues for expansion.

For my third choice I am recommending Thomas Mulcair.  He is an extremely important asset to the New Democrats, as one of the leaders of the Quebec breakthrough, a former provincial cabinet minister and a forceful advocate for modernization and reaching out.  He is a somewhat more conventional politician, in certain ways in the mold of past Prime Ministers and party leaders.  Nonetheless, he is absolutely capable of leading the NDP to victory and ensuring that we maintain our strong Quebec Caucus.

My fourth choice is Paul Dewar and I have found him to be competent and knowledgeable in the areas he has focused on, in particular many of the important changes that need to be made in managing our immigration.  Like Mulcair, I feel he is a more conventional politician, however, he has raised several cogent and important points in the debates.  He is also absolutely capable of leading the NDP to victory.

The remaining three candidates, Martin Singh, Niki Ashton, and Brian Topp I am not ranking as I do not feel I can adequately differentiate the three in their ability to perform as party leader.  Martin Singh has brought some important points to bear about making the NDP more business friendly, an important and worthy conversation to have.  Niki Ashton brings some fantastic energy and passion to the table that will serve the NDP long and well.  Brian Topp has an obvious depth of policy knowledge and experience.  They have all made a valuable contribution to the leadership debate.

Last Thoughts on Cooperation

Thanks to Nathan Cullen, there has been a lot of talk about electoral cooperation and what that means for Canada and for the future of the New Democratic Party.  Everyone obviously has an opinion on this important issue.  I have a few stray thoughts that I haven’t previously articulated.

The first is that cooperation, at its heart, is more about the New Democratic Party than anyone else. Making the offer to cooperate, being the party that reaches out is in many ways more important than the actual cooperating. It makes a profound statement about who we are and how we behave to Canadians. It says something important about the way we will govern. It rejects the total war philosophy that has been embraced by the Conservative Party of Canada.

The next is that too many are focused on the question of electoral cooperation with the Liberals.  The Liberals are not the only potential partner for cooperation and many forget the potential possibilities that may open with cooperation with the Greens.  At the very least, electoral cooperation with the Greens may make more Conservative ridings competitive, forcing them to divert resources to defend them.  The Liberals may well not come to the cooperation table if offered.  That doesn’t mean that cooperation is then no longer off the table or ceases to offer a benefit for the NDP.

My last thought on this issue can be summed up using a classic Canadian construction: cooperation if necessary but not necessarily cooperation.  What is most important is that we have a leader who is open to using all of the tools available to us and able to make a reasonable evaluation when the time comes.  Cooperation may ultimately not be the best tool for the job.  However, acknowledging it as a possibility will have a positive impact on the NDP and on our political discourse.

The Real Goal 

It is very important that the New Democratic Party remember that our ultimate goals are not just power.  We are striving to create a new economic and political paradigm for this country, completing Canada’s transition to social democracy.  While we will best be able to achieve these goals through government, we must not lose sight of them in the pursuit of power.  Whomever is chosen to lead the NDP must always remember that this is the true target and apply the methodical approach pioneered by both Stephen Harper and Jack Layton to take us towards our final goal.

Stephen Harper has done us a huge favour: he has shown to Canadians the path that brand new political party can take power in this country.  He has demonstrated the path that will take the NDP to power and which Jack Layton had embraced.  A methodical, disciplined approach can lead Canada’s New Democrats into political power and to the achievement of our goals.

When the Leadership Convention ends, the real work for the New Democratic Party will begin.  We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but together, we can defeat the Harper Conservatives and take our country into a new era.

My Choice for the Leadership of Canada’s New Democrats

Monday March 19, 2012

For quite possibly the first time in its history, the New Democratic Party has several candidates running for the leadership who have the potential to become Prime Minister of Canada.  This both speaks to the quality of the candidates and the party’s new role as the nation’s Official Opposition.

This has been made possible by the leadership of Jack Layton and the outpouring of support received by the party in the last Federal Election.  The unprecedented support received from Quebec has energized New Democrats and created an amazing opportunity to change Canada for the better.

But more than that, the New Democratic Party has the chance to bring about an important paradigm shift.  The “total war” tactics embraced by the Conservative Party has underlined a deep sickness in Canada’s democracy.

The Conservatives are not this sickness, they are a symptom of it.

The fault lies in a system that is fundamentally unfair and does not accurately represent the vote preferences of Canadians.  It is based on a old fashioned two party paradigm, that assumes a Progressive faction and a Conservative faction.  In a multiparty dynamic, whichever of these factions is divided faces a substantial disadvantage.

We saw this disadvantage play out quite spectacularly during the 1990s when the Reform Party (later the Alliance) and the Progressive Conservatives divided the right wing vote, allowing the Liberal Party to govern with nearly unlimited power for three consecutive majorities based on roughly 40% of the vote.  Now we face a similar division on the Progressive side of the aisle.

Is it any wonder that nearly 40% of Canadians don’t bother to vote, when there vote may not affect the outcome?

Is it any wonder that youth voters feel disconnected from the process?

There is one candidate for the Leadership of the New Democratic Party who understands these issues and who is willing to have frank and honest conversations about our choices going forward.

A candidate who has the ability to speak beyond the New Democratic Party’s traditional base to an entire array of new voters.  A candidate who understands that we will need to fundamentally change the political paradigm in this country in order to prevent falling back into bad old habits.

That candidate is Nathan Cullen.

Nathan Cullen speaks to youth honestly and forthrightly, without talking down to them and offering real ideas.  He communicates real reasons to support the New Democratic Party and, more importantly, to join the political process.  He speaks effectively about the need to create a new economy, one that is environmental, sustainable and opens new opportunities.  His campaign speaks to the most important values of New Democrats.

I am very proud to be one of Jack Layton’s Orange Wave, inspired by him to vote for real change in our country.

I am very proud to have joined the New Democratic Party, prompted to by the grassroots campaign, Lead Now.

And I am exceptionally proud to support Nathan Cullen as the next leader of New Democratic Party and Prime Minister of Canada.

 

Nathan Cullen’s Webpage: www.nathancullen.ca

Canada’s New Democrats Leadership Webpage: www.leadership2012.ndp.ca

Lead Now’s Webpage: www.leadnow.ca