The NDP has expelled Buzz Hargrove, the country's most prominent labour leader, for actively promoting strategic voting and Liberal candidates in last month's federal election.
The Ontario NDP provincial executive voted yesterday to pull the membership of Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, for violating the party's constitution regarding provisions against endorsing other candidates. It also automatically revokes his membership in the federal party.
Hargrove argues that he advocated "strategic voting" in ridings where the NDP was not competitive, as a way to stop the Conservatives. I must say, I do find it somewhat troubling that the NDP demands such purity from its members. Although I understand the obvious frustration for party officials, watching the Buzz and Paul show, their decision still seems at odds with the spirit of the Party.
Freedom of thought and expression is a fundamental principle. While Hargrove could justifiably be shunned from the official Party apparatus, formally turfing him sets a bad standard. If a person feels that strategic voting is the answer, the Party should not involve itself with an individuals stand. Inclusion and diversity are supposed NDP traits, I think this expulsion slightly contradicts this tone. Afterall, the CAW endorsed Hargrove's call for strategic voting and therefore his opinion had wide support amongst some NDP activists.
This is not to say that Hargrove wasn't a complete pain in the ass this campaign. And, the ironic thing is Martin may have regretted Hargrove's support in the end. But, formally kicking out Hargrove gives a shaky appearance for a Party that professes such openness. There were other, less visible options that could have been done internally.