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Alberta Politics

i missed the orange wave.

Around 1:30 am on May 2, 2011, I returned to Edmonton after spending a month travelling across the vast continent of Australia. That day also happened to be Election Day in Canada. On a social media detox while I was out of the country and suffering from severe jet lag from the moment I returned, I missed and was near oblivious of the phenomenon that had become known as “the Orange Wave.”

That night, as I watched election results come in from across Canada, I felt like I had returned to a different country. The Conservative Party won a majority government, the official opposition Liberal Party collapsed, the Bloc Quebecois almost vanished off the electoral map, the Green Party elected its first Member of Parliament, and candidates from Jack Layton‘s New Democratic Party were elected in more than one hundred constituencies and for the first time formed the Official Opposition in Ottawa.

To magnify the degree of how out of the loop I was at the time, I fall into a category with an incredibly small fraction of Canadians who voted for the NDP in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but cast their ballot for the Liberal candidate in 2011 (also known as the “Liberal Back Eddy of 2011“). This choice had little to do with Michael Ignatieff and nearly everything to do with the hard-working and very-likeable local Liberal candidate, Mary MacDonald.

Thomas Mulcair Edmonton Alberta January 2011
Thomas Mulcair

Yesterday, Thomas Mulcair was chosen to lead the NDP Official Opposition in Ottawa. Having had the opportunity to meet the three leading candidates – Mr. Mulcair, Brian Topp, and Nathan Cullen – I was impressed with the quality of leadership candidates that members of the NDP had to choose from. In January of this year, I met Mr. Mulcair while he was visiting Edmonton. At the time, I wrote that:

I was not sure what to expect from his talk, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with Mr. Mulcair’s ability to offer intelligent pragmatic social democratic answers to a crowd  consisting of committed leftists was both impressive and sometimes brave.

As a centre-leftish voter, I am looking for a party that will put forward a forward-looking progressive agenda for Canada, which should not be confused with the tired traditional partisan socialist dogma (referred to by some as the Church of the NDP). As an outsider to the NDP, I have found Mr. Mulcair’s ability to challenge those traditional positions encouraging and I recognize that it may be one of his largest challenges from inside his own party’s ranks.

Western Canada is becoming the country’s economic leader. As a Quebec MP, Mr. Mulcair should try to avoid being sucked into the traditional eastern Canadian “father knows best” attitude around economic development. Mr. Mulcair should also try to avoid being caught in the Conservative Party trap that would have any criticism or suggestion of deviation from our current resources extraction methods labelled as “anti-Albertan.” (Stephen Harper‘s Conservative Party has already released talking points to be used against Mr. Mulcair).

Mr. Mulcair and all of the NDP Members of Parliament from central and eastern Canada should consider travelling west and knocking on some doors during Alberta’s upcoming provincial election. Their provincial cousins will undoubtably appreciate the help and it may give those MP’s a better idea of what real Albertans, not just their Conservative politicians, are actually thinking.

8 replies on “i missed the orange wave.”

Speaking for myself, but also reflecting on conversations with other young folks involved in the NDP in Alberta it is that shift towards a more forward thinking party that Jack tried to push that got us more deeply involved in the party and the message of creating a more caring Canada.
Jack may be gone, but the inspiration he sparked will continue. I can only imagine how many folks in Alberta still identify with his final message of optimistic hope for a future full of love.
As the shirts at the convention over the weekend said: We are Jack Layton’s Legacy

Is an entire reorganisation around centre progressive ideas possible? How does it look? I’m not about to join the Church of the NDP… but I would consider being part of a prgamatic, progressive Liberal Democratic Party. One to 10… what do you think of the chance for movement in that direction? One that will expunge the taint of Liberal in the west?

Just wonderin’.

Oh man, I love the idea of the Church of the NDP. It perfectly describes my experience as someone who’s pretty far left of centre, but willing to question, criticize and even toss out a few sacred cows. Some days it feels like there’s no one to talk to -conservatives default to vitriol about socialism when you start a conversation, and my “brothers and sisters” (OMG!) default to the “father knows best” tone when you question traditional ideologies. Hopefully Mulclair will make the NDP a little less holier-than-thou.

“One to 10… what do you think of the chance for movement in that direction? One that will expunge the taint of Liberal in the west?”

You and Stephen Harper think alike, Will Munsey. I’m guessing you never have and never will vote NDP.

Look at where liberal-democracy has gotten the UK and the US. On the right side of the political ledger. I want a party that offers a robust alternative to the “anything that makes a buckism” of the Libs and the Cons. We don’t need another Liberal Party in Canada. They’ve been acting like the lap dogs of the Cons for years.

While Mulcair was not my first choice for leader, some of what he had been saying did resonate with me as a long-time New Democrat. For example, what he said during the debates about “many trees, but very shallow roots” in Quebec, and at the same time “deep roots but few trees” on the Prairies, where we only have two or three MPs (and none in Saskatchewan, where the CCF-NDP got its start), The party has two crucial tasks ahead of it if it is going to win government: hold onto its gains in Quebec, and re-establish itself on the Prairies as the real alternative to the Conservatives. As Leader, his job is to set the tone.

Having been a member of the NDP since it’s inception and a part of the CCF before that and a follower of the principals of social democracy all my life, I wish someone would enlighten me to the principles of “the Church of the NDP”.
As far as i can see the overriding principle has always been true democracy,equality and caring for each other. There are , of course. a percentage of members who are far left and I believe they keep the party honest
i know many people think there should not be any ownership of business. However, go to Saskatchewan.. SGI, Saskpower, and Sasktel are doing well and the people like them. The fastest way there for a party to lose an election is to say they will privatize the Crowns .The Conservatives sold out the potash mines to private business and now look at the profits that could be coming to the people, had we kept them.

A cat has been elected to lead a party, and a nation, of mice.

Those “committed leftists” you saw attack Mulcair are social democrats. The true definition of a social democrat, someone who want to see our economic institutions run democratically. Plurality within economics is key for this. It is Mulcair and his brand of liberal “social democracy” that subscribes to the dogma of neo-classical economics that worship at the alter of capitalism who are the problem. People who believes that only hierarchical for-profit business’ are capable of managing our economic affairs and that only business’ that are exploitative in nature should dominate our economic landscape. This party has been dealt a death blow with Mulcair’s victory, not in it’s chances of electoral success, but in it’s values. The two are not diametrically opposed, in fact I feel that if we had held on to our values we would have seen far greater electoral gains in the long term. The announcement that the party will re-write the pre-amble of constitution has devastated me, an ndp activist of over 7 years.

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