Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ontario NDP's Andrea Horwath can remedy the democratic deficit, massive poll says

We are close to the wire in the race for a new provincial government in our most populated province, says a massive new poll. The chances right now are high that neither the Liberals nor the Tories will win a majority.

And the NDP will emerge as the one to be courted by either party if they wish to survive as a minority government.

Will the NDP's rookie leader make the same mistake that the Liberal Democrats did in the UK, when they blew the one and only chance they had to insist upon the introduction of proportional representation as the price for their cooperation with the Tories. Instead, they accepted a half-hearted offer of a referendum on something less, with the Tories reserving the right to campaign against the thinner gruel they offered the LibDems. The result in the UK was that the LibDems sold their soul for a pittance, and will be wiped out come the next election.

And the LibDems will suffer the same fate they have suffered for decades under the archaic first past the post system that the UK pretends is democratic: under representation in Parliament, and the absence from the table where decisions are made. They will continue their role as protest party, but not serious contenders for power.
Andrea Horwath - on the edge of greatness ...

Will the NDP rookie show the same ineptitude that the federal NDP executives seem to be showing with respect to the Quebec breakthrough? Will she show that she, too, is a lightweight, with far too little strategic DNA in her to grasp this golden opportunity to once and forever change the rules of the game, and ensure that the NDP will always, in the future, be a power-broker in Ontario?

If she understands politics – really understands that it is a game of power, with the powerful getting to run the government their way and implement their policies and ideas – then Ms Horwath will understand that she can insist on the introduction and passing of legislation to implement proportional representation within 6 months.

Note that I said legislation, nor referendum. 

The history of referenda on PR in Canada is a shameful one of lip service paid to the idea by the political leaders, but the whole exercise being sabotaged by the absence of adequate funding, the deliberate setting of targets at too high a level, and the active opposition to the concept by those politicians who now benefit from our anti-democratic system.

Does Ms Horwath have the right stuff?

If she has, our history books will applaud her for generations to come. If she does not, she will be a footnote of ineptness, like Clegg.


  1. ij, you might be right. But sometimes the call of history throws up a man or a woman who steps forward to answer history's call.

    To date, we have not had any leaders from any of the parties who have realized that their most important contribution to Canadians would be to bring better democracy to ordinary people.

    Should such a man or woman appear, proportional representation would be an obvious answer to regional tensions, to lopsided riding populations, to a minority government given free rein to ride roughshod over the majority of the people, and to the feeling by 40% of our voters that their voted does not count, so why bother to vote at all?

    In the past we had champions of ordinary Canadians who bucked conventional wisdom, and bettered the lot of the country's citizens. Tommy Douglas did this to health care system. Pierre Elliot Trudea did it with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Will Andrea Horwath answer the call of history?

  2. Even though I am generally sympathetic to the NDP as you know, I don't see that Horwarth as the mettle to make such a commitment and properly follow through. I think because, as you said, the referenda thus far have been rather shameful, politicians have been scared off of holding fast to the issue of PR. The establishment has so effectively demonized PR that it will take a great deal of commitment to change things.

  3. kirbycairo, Horwath is a dark horse, one does not know what she will do. If enough Dippers at both the federal and provincial level (including those in other provinces) speak to her about the opportunity to better NDP fortunes for all by forcing PR through for Ontario, then perhaps she would screw her courage to the sticking place, and she'll not fail ...

    How often does one individual get the chance to attain greatness as a politician?

    Andrea Horwath has that chance. She could be remembered in the same breath as the great Tommy Douglas, if she thought strategically and acted with fortitude.

    Let's wish her wisdom, and strength.


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