Friday, September 23, 2011

How long before Quebeckers start feeling unloved by the NDP?

We seem to be witnessing the parade of the emperor without any clothes, as the leadership campaign to replace Jack Layton gets underway. If you are inside the NDP, it seems that you see the emperor garbed in shining gold cloth, with a crown reflecting the sun on his head, and footguards trotting alongside his gilded coach.
But if you are outside the NDP – like Chantal Herbert or Rex Murphy – then the spectacle looks surrealistic.

The emperor clearly does not have any clothes on.


I wonder how long it will take for some enterprising polling company to ask voters in Quebec how they feel about a leadership process which will allow their voice (or at least the voice of 43% of them, according to recent polls) to be swamped by the voices of Anglophone Canada. This is almost guaranteed, given the absence of any thoughtful response by NDP executives to the remarkable breakthrough made by Jack Layton and his Quebec team in the May 2 election. This small protest party swept aside a party that for years had a lock on the MPs going to Ottawa from that province. They decimated the Bloc, tossed out Duceppe, swept aside decades of isolation, smashed through the two solitudes, broke down the wall of indifference that had separated Quebec from any meaningful participation in the nation's affairs.

And they did this for three reasons, in my view.

First, they felt it wrong that the neocon Harper Tories should steer Canada down the path of right wing ideology, when most Canadians – especially in Quebec – favoured a far more tolerant and supportive society.

Second, they liked what they saw in Jack Layton, and the policies of the NDP, which in some respects (other than its blind opposition to the capitalist system) is the closest to the Quebec social democratic makeup than any other party is.

Third, they had spent several years listening to the leader of the Liberal Party justify why Harper's Tories should be given the green light to form the government even though his party is supported by a minority of voters, through that leader's insistence on going it alone rather than extending a hand to join the centre-left parties to unseat the Tories.

And when they acted, Quebeckers did so with a vengeance. They simply upended Canadian politics. They sent a message that it was not only Arab countries that could have an Arab Spring revolt against leaders who disregarded the interests of the many in favour of the few. They broke down a wall that was as strong and as effective as the Berlin Wall had been.

And in doing so, they allowed a welcome breath of fresh air to sweep into our stifled, gridlocked politics.

For the first time in  many years, it is now possible for the progressive section of Canada (the largest by far of all sections) to join together to place in power a government which wishes to extend our democracy, build a more compassionate society, ensure that people and not just profits are considered when decisions are made.
Ms Turmel and the emperor ...

But the NDP elite are turning their back on this hand that has been reached out from the formerely isolationist province.

If Quebec is not given a fair chance to  have a say in the election of the man or woman who will lead the NDP for many years to come, what will this do to this new willingness to reach out and offer to participate in the affairs of a united Canada?

By the way, the enterprising polling company should also take the pulse of the other provinces with regard to the fairness of the process now foisted upon Quebec and the rest of the country by the NDP executive.

And let's all hope, for the sake of what could be a wonderful new Canada, that Ms Turmel stops for a moment, takes a long hard look at the emperor she has helped create, and really really see what he is wearing.

Or not wearing.

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