A confession: I went temporarily insane after the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership convention this past December. Chock it up to Harper Derangement Syndrome, coupled with a healthy dislike of NDP leader Jack Layton. I felt (and, to a certain extent, still feel) that anyone would be an improvement over the current Tory government (hellbent on rupturing the fabric of Canadian society in the name of neo-conservative free market pathology), but the Dippers haven’t displayed any substantive desire to form the next Canadian government.
So, as detailed (with embarrassing naivety) here, I requested an application to join the Grits, swallowing my (many, many) misgivings with a nauseous gulp and no little entryist rationalization. Since that brief moment of delusional clarity, the form has sat, unsent, on my desk, gathering dust. I’d periodically look over the details and wonder if I could honestly reconcile my dedication to social democracy with the Grits’ distasteful laissez-faire economic and policy platform. The more I read, the more it became apparent that, despite certain misgivings with the contemporary Canadian left, I am most certainly not a liberal, small or capital ‘L’; I am a proud socialist in the Tommy Douglas tradition. To join a liberal democratic party (even one drifting leftward under the leadership of Stephane Dion) would be an unforgivable betrayal of my core beliefs.
Do I regret my brief flirtation with liberalism? Hell yes. I’ve deeply questioned the integrity of my beliefs over the past few months, and on several occasions nearly convinced myself that I was doing the right thing. But I’ve realized that the Grits will never be a worker-friendly party, regardless of CAW President Buzz Hargrove’s pragmatic support; the Grits are too deeply beholden to amoral corporate interests to give anything more than lip-service to workers, women, and the poor (to say nothing of the environment).
All that is great–three cheers for finding my way back on course again–but the current NDP leadership (read: Jack Layton) and platform (especially its unequivocal support of Quebecois self-determination) still doesn’t reflect what I think best represents 21st century internationalist social democracy. Former leader Ed Broadbent’s grand vision of a market-based economy (not a market-based society) balanced with an uncompromising dedication to democratic socialist public policy seems light-years away from the Dippers’ recent ideological floundering. Combine that with Layton’s tendency to overly relish what amounts to perpetual spoiler status within a minority Parliament and (hopefully) you can see why I’ve been reluctant to renew my party membership these last few years.
So where does this leave yours truly? I still believe the environment (specifically climate change and sustainability) is the core issue facing Canada in the coming decade (with electoral reform–another area where my views and the Grits’ are separated by a wide chasm–placing a close second). Yet despite holding no little respect for former
president executive director of the Sierra Club and current Green Party leader Elizabeth May, the Green’s core vision of decentralized government and drastic tax-cuts is not something I can support in good faith. Therefore, as of now, I (reluctantly) identify as a (small ‘I’) independent. I will keep voting NDP for the foreseeable future (my riding is not likely to swing Tory, and I’ve campaigned in the past for currrent Dipper MP Irene Mathyssen, who IMO has distinguished herself in Parliament by holding Heritage Minister Bev Oda’s feet to the fire over drastic Tory cuts to Status of Women Canada) ; I’ll continue to support the drive to replace Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system with some form of proportional representation.
But until the NDP cleans house from the top down, I can’t in good faith throw my unequivocal support behind the party.