Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's The Point Of Voting NDP?

Okay, before you do the knee jerk partisan deduction( here goes those Liberals again), pretend for a second there were no "teams", just philosophical underpinnings. Readers of this blog will know I've long made the case that colour tends to blind actual spectrum considerations. For instance, Gary Doer was centrist, pro big business, observers agree that his government had little in common with federal NDP policies. As well, Darrell Dexter winning in Nova Scotia was really an exercise in moving the provincial NDP to the center, a fact that is irrefutable. For all the fawning from federal NDP forces, Dexter was really a repudiation of traditional NDP ground. I mention these examples because I firmly believe you could make a case that Dalton McGuinty is every bit the progressive that these supposed NDP icons are and where. In other words, forget about this colour and that, just look at the policies and you'll find little true impetus to vote NDP in this provincial election.

What are the big issues, synonymous with traditional NDP leanings? Start with unions, and you'll find that the McGuinty government has brought relative labour peace to the public sector, contrasted with the past regime, it's like night and day McGuinty has engaged with respect and the relationship has been quite cordial. As well, moving to the private sector, the fact that the head of the CAW can take the stage with McGuinty speaks VOLUMES about how the provincial Liberals have governed. A perfect record? Absolutely not, but if this was an NDP government, NDP supporters would be singing McGuinty's praises, of that I have absolutely no doubt.

I once voted NDP, primarily because I felt they were spot on when it came to the environment, the Liberals a disappointing disaster, closer to regressive than progressive by any measure. However, if you're concerned about the environment in this provincial election, there is endless evidence that these McGuinty Liberals offer the best alternative. Oh sure, we can quibble about this and that, but if you forget the partisan pom poms for a moment, you'd have to concede the Liberal agenda is progressive, dare I say REVOLUTIONARY. The fact leading environmentalists have praised the agenda, endorsed it completely, offers some independent realism apart from the partisan fog.

The NDP traditionally believe in a interventionalist government, one that actively engages in the economy. This approach is in direct contrast to the hands off, free market approach that Conservatives believe. The McGuinty government has demonstrated time and again that it sees an active role for government in the economy, there is nothing offensive in this approach from a purely philosophical NDP perspective.

I don't mean to sound smug or dismissive, but I'm starting to see this provincial election in Ontario as really more about colour than content, more about who you're predisposed to support, rather than a fair reading of the issues. On many major fronts, the red team reads like the orange team, so much so if we traded platforms, people would passionately defend. In this election, for myself, the Ontario NDP are entirely unnecessary, redundant and the points of distinction are more exaggerated for partisan purposes than true philosophical divergence.

There I said it :)


DL said...

I could do a search and replace of your posting and put in Liberal Party of Canada in each place where you put Ontario NDP and it would be just as plausible. So what are you suggesting - a quid pro quo whereby the Ontario NDP folds and supports the Ontario Liberals while at the federal level the Liberals fold and announce their support for the NDP?

BTW: I have to say that this Ontario election campaign is so dull and issueless that I find it hard to find any issues where the PCs under Hudak actually say they would do anything all that wildly out of line with what the Liberals are doing now. Their platform is just a bunch of bromides about balancing the budget...someday over the rainbow. But I think its fair to say that PCs are a lot more rightwing than their sanitized platform would lead you to believe and the NDP is institutionally a more leftwing party than their centrist platform in this election indicates. I suspect we are going to see an incredibly low turnout in this election because people are so uninterested.

Steve V said...

"NDP is institutionally a more leftwing party than their centrist platform in this election indicates"

Oh good, you agree with me then.

DL said...

In the most recent federal election, if you had arrived on the planet earth from Mars - you might have had trouble figuring out who was more leftwing the NDP or the Liberals - FROM THEIR OFFICIAL PLATFORMS. But like it or not official platforms are more or less a joke these days anyways. All the parties make their retail politics type promises and as a voter I basically ignore the platform and focus on what I know to be the core philosophy of each party.

You have to admit that its a bit weird that in the federal election Ignatieff tried to depict himself as being MORE against corporate tax cuts than the NDP was. Now in the Ontario election McGuinty is saying that the ONDP policy (which sounds exactly like what the federal Liberals were saying a couple of months ago) to reverse corporate tax cuts would drive the economy into the ground!

So far the latest big Liberal promise of the campaign is to cancel a power plant in Mississauga that will lead to $100s of millions in cancellation fees - just so they can hold on to one more riding in Mississauga! None of the parties are actually describing what their hidden agendas are for balancing the budget. We know that the Liberals have some shadowing secretive "commission" led by Don Drummond that is supposed to give them a policy AFTER the election that will almost certainly include mass layoffs and wage cuts in the public sector etc...but for some strange reason, we don't see any of that in the Liberal platform. Hudak probably has even more of a hidden agenda. But as Kim Campbellk one said - "an election campaign is no time to discuss serious issues".

Steve V said...

Thing is, I'm speaking to the record, NOT platforms, BIG difference. If this was Darrell Dexter, you guys would be fighting for all his achievements :)

DL said...

I don't think the Ontario Liberals have been a terrible government. In fact they have done some good things that i give them credit for like full-day kindergarten. I do honestly believe that if they were to somehow eek out another majority government - it would be "no more Mr. Nice GUY" and they would go on the attack against teachers and nurses and public services etc...If the Ontario Liberals are forced to make a deal with the NDP to stay in power it would at least be a good insurance policy against the Liberals taking Don Drummond's recommendations hook line and sinker and swinging to the right in their third term. Horwath could demand that the reverse the latest round of corporate tax cuts and the extra revenue would help avoid the kind of cuts to social services that McGuinty probably has secret task forces planning as we speak.

DL said...

...all of that being said, I think that in a dull, issueless campaign where people feel the stakes are very low - a lot of people will vote for whichever party is led by the leader they would most like to have over for a BBQ!

Steve V said...

it would be "no more Mr. Nice GUY" and they would go on the attack against teachers and nurses and public services etc

If that were true, then he wouldn't enjoy all their support this election. That's a boogeyman that has no basis in fact.

Anonymous said...

You Liberals are so desperate. One of your smears has been that the ONDP and PCs are the same thus don't vote NDP. Now ONDP and OLP are the same so don't vote NDP. Next it will be ONDP are closet communists, don't vote for them.

How about recommending voting for something rather than against something? A vote against something is a vote for nothing, and worse it rewards the negative campaigns, the smears, and the attacks of the OLP and the PCPO

To answer your question, a vote for the ONDP is a vote FOR real progressive practical government and a different way of doing politics. I'm tired of cynical, disingenuous negative politics where you win by getting voters to vote against.

McGuinty was elected with huge majorities and unfettered power to reverse the regressive policies of Harris/Eves. Sadly, in many ways Ontarians are worse off than under Harris.

McGuinty has co-opted (i.e. bought off some labour peace) some of the labour movement but has also continued the neoliberal tactic of weakening unions by not bringing in anti-scab and card certification legislation and by undermining the right to collectively bargain by legislating workers back to work.

Vulnerable citizens not only lost dietary supplement under McGuinty, in relative terms it sucks more to be poor under McGuinty than under Harris. Poverty is worse under McGuinty, worst of all, child poverty is worse under McGuinty.

Students, especially postsecondary students are way worse off under McGuinty. Tuition is much higher and debt burdens much higher.

Human Rights and Civil liberties have suffered under McGuinty. McGuinty's expansion of police powers during the G20 summit was the worst civil rights abuse in Canada in my lifetime. Also, McGuinty refused to include gender identity in the Human Rights Code- a simple gesture that would have meant so much to our trans community


Steve V said...

Neoliberal? So tired of lazy parroting. Yawn.

DL said...

It is true that the Liberal message track against the NDP in Ontario seems very undisciplined and all over the map. Just this week we have heard Liberals say the NDP are identical to the PCs, then other Liberals have said the NDP are identical to the Ontario Liberals, then still other liberals have said the NDP will raise your taxes, but still other Liberals say that they will recklessly lower your taxes! They also say that Ontario can't risk another "experiment" with the NDP - when the last experiment was singlehandedly led by the current interim leader of the federal Liberal Party.

Confused? I sure am.

Scotian said...

Wow Steve V given the reaction you are getting you just might be on to something here. Not being an Ontarioan myself and being able to admit to my own ignorance (unlike far too many political observers of all stripes in my experience) I can't say directly since I have not been following the Ontario election at all closely (although I was forced to see some of the election ads because of the specialty channels we watch, loved the one with the Premier just talking about his record, simple yet effective in terms of how well made it was and how it presented his argument versus the PC one all about where Hudak came from, safe and traditional but without punch/zing and a tired approach of selling personality as opposed to policy) but I can see the logic of your argument regarding the NS NDP government under Dexter being valid since I live here so I can see the rest of your argument having potential merit as well. Given the rapid and strong reaction from the hardcore Dipper regular at your blog though it seems it really hit a nerve, which makes me think you really are on to something here.

Too often these days people take their politics by cheering for brands/leaders, there is far too little examination and consideration of policy and what I would characterize as manner of execution (like with Harper, the problem was not so much the policies even though they were bad enough, but the way in which he would choose to implement them) as important elements in choosing parties and leaders for elective office. This is NOT the way Canadians traditionally did politics until fairly recently, and I think we as a nation are the poorer for it overall. I think therefore you make an interesting observation here, interesting enough it drew me out of my lurking mode enough to leave this comment.

DL said...

So "Scotian" do you recommend that the Nova Scotia Liberals dissolve and just tell their people to vote for Darrell Dexter next time?

Steve V said...

No, Dexter should just join the Libs, since he's one anyways. The only reason the guy won is because he became a Lib and completely abandoned the left. That the federal NDP clung to his bossom was simply absurd.

JimmE said...

The NDP, proudly electing Tories since 1961.

D said...

"I don't mean to sound smug or dismissive, but I'm starting to see this provincial election in Ontario as really more about colour than content"

This is exactly the situation we have in Manitoba. The NDP and PC parties have nearly identical platforms. The governing NDP have strayed so far from social-democracy that their grassroots OUGHT to be enraged. Yet, as the governing party, it's whistlin' dixie. The NDP have copied many of the PC's strategies and platform promises on critical social issues. They've failed the environment. They've failed the poor. They've failed the elderly.

The PC's however, are running on "change." Change to what? More police officers on the beat (same as the NDP); fiscal responsibility (they're pledging more $$$ in new spending than the "socialists"); economic development (they refuse to diversify Manitoba Hydro for fear of being accused of being privatizers)?

Oddly, the MB Liberal party, with 1 sitting member - leader Dr. Jon Gerrard - has been hailed by the Free Press and G&M as having fresh ideas that are fiscally sound. The problem? Why, they are Liberals. And this is a two-horse race, dontchaknow?

So what will it be, Manitoba? Blue or Orange? We'll get what we deserve on the morning of October 5: a bland, uncreative, and stagnant government with little room for growth or improvement.

Steve V said...

Thanks for the rundown Dylan, I admit I have been distracted by my own province to pay enough attention.