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Author Topic: Rescuing the Provincial Parties
Aristotleded24
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posted 07 March 2006 01:48 PM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What can be done about the neo-liberal direction in which provincial NDP parties have been going since the 1990s? Romanow's government was more conservative than NDP governments past, and has been considered by many to be a Third Way party in the mould of Tony Blair. In 1999, Gary Doer became Premier of Manitoba, and has continued his pattern of undercutting his own government's revenue with tax cuts in this year's budget. The CCPA in both provinces has criticised the business-friendly approach of both governments. Carole James in BC has been criticised for her "moderating" the party by "standing up to big labour," and not swinging hard enough at Campbell and suggesting alternatives. This was after some government initiatives (i.e. welfare reform) raised questions among traditional supporters.

What can be done about this? How do we prevent other provincial parties and the federal one from going in that direction? Is there hope for the provincial parties? Or have the provincial parties been taken over by powerful interests, making it impossible to work from inside the parties, and maybe we should take our support eslewhere?


From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
NWOntarian
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posted 07 March 2006 02:34 PM      Profile for NWOntarian   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Aristotleded24:
Is there hope for the provincial parties? Or have the provincial parties been taken over by powerful interests, making it impossible to work from inside the parties, and maybe we should take our support eslewhere?

I find it interesting that in the three cases you mention -- BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba -- the political system has been basically reduced to two parties. SK and MB are particularly intriguing because within the past 20 year years, the Liberals were seen as taking credible runs at government in both provinces, but now they're almost non-existant.

I think the lack of a third party has caused the NDP in both provinces to become more centrist and move away from bold stances on issues that would excite the base. With no similar competitor to distinguish themselves from -- other than conservative parties, which isn't that difficult to be different from -- they've begun to stagnate. It's also given them incentives to carry out some of the more questionable policies so they can sponge up those centrist votes. The best thing that could happen for them would probably to have a Liberal resurgence so they have to give their policy thinking a kickstart.

Are there any progessive alternatives to the NDP in SK and MB?

There's an interesting article in the Hill Times from yesterday about how political parties are becoming more and more marketed like consumer products. Less of an institution, more of a product. Bill Blaikie has some good things to say about how we need to increase the participatory nature of political parties.

Political Parties in a State of Deep Decline

quote:
The Public Policy Forum and Crossing Boundaries interviewed 26 political party insiders including strategists, MPs and Senators, who agreed that increasingly since the 1990s "parties misunderstood democratization and mistook democratic engagement for the act of casting a ballot."

...

One interviewee referred to an increasing "Canadian Idolization of politics," whereby voters see their parties only when it's election time and cast ballots without ever being engaged in the entire political process.

...

NDP Deputy Leader Bill Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona, Man.), who was first elected as an MP in 1979, agreed that parties' relevance is declining. "There isn't as much meaningful debate and exchange in policy viewpoints within the parties," he said, adding that he believes there's a consumer view of politics. "It's as if parties are shelved in stores and they have an obligation to sell themselves, which is degrading. We need to find a way to move away from the consumer view to a more participatory view where if people don't like what they're seeing, they can join the party and help shape it themselves."



From: London, ON | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
BenM
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posted 07 March 2006 06:42 PM      Profile for BenM     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I actually support the move towards the centre made by James, especially after the debacle of Glen Clark... In many ways, the movement of the BC NDP towards the centre is a reaction to the huge unpopularity of the previous NDP government.
From: Armstrong | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Aristotleded24
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posted 17 March 2006 02:13 AM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
*bump*
From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 17 March 2006 02:43 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
As has been mentioned the successful provincial parties have moved to the centre, largely because there isn't a particularly effective centrist party already occupying that territory. Also, it's clear that the failure of the left as it were to take power in the eighties, and the dominance of the right through that period lead to the entire political spectrum being moved significantly to the right - economically in the nineties. As such even the mainstream left was moved to the right as well. Simple political inertia has lead to the fact that where there's only two significant parties "moderates" will need a home somewhere, and since the BC, SK and MB NDP's are all catch-all broad-based parties, they're going to catch a significant number of moderates. So while the Alberta NDP, or NFLD NDP or federal NDP have the pleasure of being as left-wing as they want, since they're crowded out of the centrist market anyways, the other parties simply don't. Essentially the BC, SK, MB and to an extent NS NDP sections are all coalitions, whereas the others don't really have to be.

As such if people on the left want real influence within sections of the party that they're worried are "moving to the centre" too much, they ought to work to make sure that they're significant enough forces within and in support of those sections so as to make it impossible for them to be ignored. If they're simply a fringe that's complaining constantly they can be easily ignored and dimissed. I mean this in terms of being volunteers, and in positions within the party. As well as being in important civil society groups that advocate for leftist positions. Ie: left-leaning think tanks, unions, activist organizations, non-profits, co-ops or whatever. Because they'll be consisting an important and recognizable demographic within those coalition that can't just be ignored. Money is important too, where it applies making sure that those parties receive significant amounts of cash, in relation to their total revenue will make them "beholden" to a more left-leaning agenda. Or in supporting alternative and credible media sources other than "the socialist worker". The right has done this successfully, so much so that they have two major parties federally!


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 17 March 2006 03:29 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by NWOntarian:

The best thing that could happen for them would probably to have a Liberal resurgence so they have to give their policy thinking a kickstart.


Or proportional representation. That would also have the distinct advantage of a)giving people the feeling that their votes (and voices) truly mattered (as Blaikie wishes) and b) flushing out Carole James to the Liberals.

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
TheStudent
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posted 17 March 2006 03:37 AM      Profile for TheStudent        Edit/Delete Post
I don't know that it is necessarily true that the lack of a centrist party leads the NDP to the centre. If you look at Ontario, the NDP migrated to the centre just fine despite the presence of a strong Liberal party, in fact almost because of it (if you bear in mind idiot voting [often called strategic voting]). As well, the federal party moved to the centre in a period of Liberal government. While the lack of an effective centrist party may have had some effect in BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, I don't think it can be considered the most important factor.

That said, I think that the best hope for moving the NDP back to the left is to try to mobilize NDP supporters on the left of the party. I know that in Ontario the ONDY (Ontario New Democratic Youth) is substantially further to the left of the party as a whole, as is the case in Alberta. Find other left-leaning supporters as well. Bring them to conventions, elect left-leaning riding association executives, propose appropriate motions at riding association meetings to be forwarded to conventions. The NDP is a mass party and as such can have its policy swayed by large groups of members.


From: Re-instate Audra Now! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 17 March 2006 03:38 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Did she, personally, eat your cat or something?
From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
TheStudent
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posted 17 March 2006 03:39 AM      Profile for TheStudent        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Vansterdam Kid:
Did she, personally, eat your cat or something?

Huh? How is that at all relevant to this discussion?

[ 17 March 2006: Message edited by: TheStudent ]


From: Re-instate Audra Now! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 17 March 2006 03:40 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
It was directed towards Heph, and his obsession in mentioning Carole James as an evil Liberal everytime these types of discussions come up. We simply cross-posted.

[ 17 March 2006: Message edited by: Vansterdam Kid ]


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
TheStudent
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posted 17 March 2006 04:00 AM      Profile for TheStudent        Edit/Delete Post
My appologies.
From: Re-instate Audra Now! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Hephaestion
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posted 17 March 2006 04:00 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Vansterdam Kid:

Heph, and his obsession in mentioning Carole James as an evil Liberal



Who's obsessed? BenM wrote:

quote:
I actually support the move towards the centre made by James, especially after the debacle of Glen Clark.


and while I'm certainly no fan of Clark, I decided to offer an alternate perspective on Carole James.

From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
the bard
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posted 29 March 2006 01:17 PM      Profile for the bard     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Aristotleded24:
What can be done about this? How do we prevent other provincial parties and the federal one from going in that direction? Is there hope for the provincial parties? Or have the provincial parties been taken over by powerful interests, making it impossible to work from inside the parties, and maybe we should take our support eslewhere?

How can we prevent the FEDERAL NDP from going in a neoliberal direction? It already HAS. Layton certainly ran the most right-wing campaign in the history of the federal party last time - reversal on the Clarity Act, no new taxes (in other words the regressive tax cuts under Chretien and Martin were fine, but cutting taxes further would be wrong), nothing to say about Canadian intervention in Haiti and Afghanistan (but they did support increased military spending), no criticism of NAFTA or corporate globalization (getting a "fair deal" re softwood lumber doesn't count and the NDP's position only further legitimated NAFTA), a willingness to consider some move to market-based healthcare service and most notorious of all, a horrible law-and-order platform calling for mandatory minimum sentences. If that wasn't a neoliberal platform, I don't know what is.

Some decent progressive people got elected - like Olivia Chow and Peggy Nash - and I had a good progressive candidate who I voted for last time. But I'm running out of patience with the party. However, the solution is either a new left-wing party or pushing the NDP to the left, strategic voting as advocated by Buzz will only serve to move politics further to the right.

[ 29 March 2006: Message edited by: the bard ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged
brookmere
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posted 30 March 2006 01:48 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
To all you Carole James bashers out there, may I point out that she is the first BC NDP leader since Dave Barrett - yes that's right - to increase the party's popular vote over the previous election?

There's not a single one of us who is 100% happy with the party's direction all the time. Remember the "D" stands for democratic - if you want to change the party's direction, sign up more members who think the same as you, and get some results. If that's too much work for you, quit whining.


From: BC (sort of) | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Aristotleded24
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posted 30 March 2006 01:57 AM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by brookmere:
To all you Carole James bashers out there, may I point out that she is the first BC NDP leader since Dave Barrett - yes that's right - to increase the party's popular vote over the previous election?

I seem to recall that during Campbell's first term that there were times when the NDP polled ahead of Campbell. The BC NDP had prior been reduced to 2 seats after receiving its lowest portion of the vote in history, and it was in part because people felt the NDP had been arrogant and wanted to punish them. It's not often that after going through something like that for such a party to rise that far in the opinion polls after such a short time. The fact that the BCNDP failed to capitalise on this sentiment and win the election last year means the party has some soul-searching to do. (Heph, is my understanding of the situation accurate?)

It seems to me that in those circumstances that the party's popular vote was destined to dramatically rise anyways, so going from 2 seats to 33 in this context doesn't seem much of a great accomplishment.

[ 30 March 2006: Message edited by: Aristotleded24 ]


From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
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posted 30 March 2006 02:10 AM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've started a thread specifically about the BC NDP, and the performance of its leader and MLAs since the election, here.

[ 30 March 2006: Message edited by: Yossarian ]


From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 30 March 2006 02:14 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What's left to rescue of the Ontario party? Rumour has it Shelly Martel is leaving. Howard had to be begged to stay. The party has no media presence whatsoever. Who even knows them? Are they all left over from the Rae administration?

Meanwhile, Ontario memberships have, I am told, subsided to their pre-Layton levels. (Apparently, fyi, the largest riding associations are Kenora Rainy River and Nickel Belt.)

(BTW, many key federal NDP riding associations are deep in debt and this as much as anything is why the NDP will steer a super-cautious course in Ottawa now.)

Would anybody other than die-hard Dippers notice if the Ontario NDP simply disappeared?

[ 30 March 2006: Message edited by: rasmus raven ]


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Albireo
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posted 30 March 2006 02:36 AM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
And yet, the Ontario NDP is polling at around 20%, well above the 14.7% of the last provincial election. And (reportedly) the Tory Tories aren't scaring anyone these days, lessening the magnitude of the anybody-but-Harrisites voting patterns that we've seen in the last 3 Ontario elections. And, really, is the Ontario PC media presence much greater than that of the NDP? The political media cycle is only now turning back to Queen's Park.

Perhaps all is not as grim as it seems. But I agree that the Ontario NDP is almost invisible these days, and that is grim enough.


From: --> . <-- | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
Vansterdam Kid
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posted 30 March 2006 02:54 AM      Profile for Vansterdam Kid   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
So if a tree falls down in the forest and no one hears it fall, has it actually fallen down? I don't doubt that information persay, (from the other side of the country mind you) Howard Hampton seems quite boring. But that's an intresting comment as the NDP did improve federally in that province, even with the evil/scary Conservatives at the gates. (directed more at RR)

Anyhow, I don't think the BC NDP could've won the last election, unless Campbell really screwed up. And I mean, so obviously screwed up that even the media and all the other Liberal super friends couldn't have ignored it (edited to make sense). Lets say Campbell ran over someone before he visited the Hawaiian drunk tank, that would've gotten him to resign, or had he stayed on it would have hurt the Liberals bad enough for them to loose. If you take a look at the history of BC the old "I'm really angry" NDP didn't have much success at winning. BC isn't like Saskatchewan or Manitoba, the NDP hasn't really proven itself as "trustworthy" to the average middle swing voting "non-ideological" British Columbian the way it has in those two provincial sections. Like it or not, its image has never been one of comptence persay, unlike those other two provincial sections.

Sure in the past it excited the base, which yes is important, but the Socreds kept winning so its not as if there's a historical precedent to the BC NDP getting the ultimate prize. The only time they won was when the right-wing ABTNDP screwed up so bad that even their own supporters couldn't hold their noses anymore and voted for a diffrent option. I remember reading a few polls and apparently when the NDP was leading 45 to 38%, their support was very soft, and about 55% percent of that was based on the fact that those supporters didn't like the Liberals, so much as them actually likeing the NDP persay. Heck, even when the NDP won a landslide in 1991 they only got 40% of the vote, and where at 50% in the polls earlier. This is largely because of one mediocre one-liner Gordon Wilson dilvered which gave those super soft supporters the option to not vote for the "icky" socialists but also to not have to stay with the corrupt Socreds.

Not to mention the type of election this was for the NDP, essentially it was an attempt to avoid what happened to the Ontario NDP, ie: continiously having to defend its past and be held back by it. The party made a pretty good break from it. I'd agree that they need to define their future and have a decent vision, as simply running a boring campaign again won't be likely to get them very far, nonethless the last election was not theirs to win -- they did far better then expected. Heck the stealth strategy almost worked, just a few more votes in a few more seats and they would've been able to repeat the 1996 result and have won with less of the popular vote than the Liberals.

[ 30 March 2006: Message edited by: Vansterdam Kid ]


From: bleh.... | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 30 March 2006 03:47 AM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Admittedly, Dalton McGuinty has managed to make everything about Ontario politics incredibly boring. In fact, in several sectors, particularly health care, he is initiating far reaching neoliberal reform far beyond anything Mike Harris could get away with. But because Dalton McGuinty is a black hole of charisma, nobody seems to notice these things. Fighting McGuinty is like shadow boxing. He may have the Bill Davis factor that keeps him in government for a while though. Bland, uninteresting, basically competent from a conservative point of view.
From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Booker2
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posted 30 March 2006 06:48 PM      Profile for Booker2     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by rasmus raven:
The party has no media presence whatsoever. Who even knows them?

I was encouraged to see this recent editorial in the Toronto Star -- Canada's biggest circulation newspaper?

"During the last election campaign McGuinty said the clawback was wrong and promised to put an end to it. And so New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton has been asking the government why it failed to do so in last week's budget. Pointing to last year's $3 billion budgetary windfall, Hampton gazed across the Legislature on Monday and said: 'Four hundred and forty-three thousand children live in poverty in Ontario — one in six children ... Tell those poor kids and their families why, under those circumstances, you continue to take $1,500 away from those poorest children every year.' The Liberals did not have a decent answer. Where is Queen's Park's soul?"

And this column in Canada's national newspaper.

Quite suddenly, the Liberals seemed awfully interested in their shoes. This often happens when people point out that the Liberals don't always live up to the billing they give themselves (with some justification) for being concerned about society's poor and vulnerable. You see it with Premier Dalton McGuinty when he is reminded in the legislature that he hasn't yet delivered on his vow to extend publicly financed therapy for autistic children past age 6. His discomfort on such occasions is palpable. It happened again yesterday when New Democratic Party Leader Howard Hampton asked why last week's budget did not end the so-called clawback of the federal National Child Benefit Supplement despite election promises to do so.

[ 30 March 2006: Message edited by: Booker2 ]


From: Ontario | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
rasmus
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posted 30 March 2006 06:58 PM      Profile for rasmus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well you can always find exceptions to prove the rule. But I've asked lots of people who are news junkies but not partisan what they can recall the ONDP doing recently, and people keep drawing blanks. I myself follow politics pretty closely and they're not on my radar screen, except insofar as I make it a point to ask people in the party ingroup and advocacy groups about them.

A party staffer who recently left the Queen's Park staff along with a number of other people during the recent troubles there said that when he was on the inside he thought they were really having an impact, had a high profile. When he got out and started following the media, he realized they were invisible. I'm sure you can dredge up an article here or an article there. It's the forest not the trees that interest me here.


From: Fortune favours the bold | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
V. Jara
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posted 30 March 2006 11:37 PM      Profile for V. Jara     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
If you want to push your party leftward you need to put up good lefty candidates, with actual pragmatic plans to match their beliefs, and then you need to get them elected. MPs and MLAs with backbone have a lot of influence on the party's policies.

The executive positions within the party are also important but they are dominated by those who can afford to spend 20+ hours a week on unpaid party business.

And Heph, while Carole James may not be as left as you, she is definitely not a Liberal. I find a lot of this talk about moderating the party and centrism to be a load of hooey. The main concern of those running the BC NDP right now is getting elected IMO. They could care less what it takes to get them there.


From: - | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
brookmere
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posted 31 March 2006 10:06 AM      Profile for brookmere     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Arist.
The fact that the BCNDP failed to capitalise on this sentiment and win the election last year means the party has some soul-searching to do.

Oh come on. When was the last time ANY party in Canada increased its seat count from 3 to a majority within a single election? It just doesn't happen. You just can't expect that many non-incumbents to get elected.

One big problem the BC NDP had in that campaign was that they were greatly outspent by the Liberals. If the previous NDP government had done what the lefties' favourite whipping boy, Gary Doer had done - namely banning corporate donations - the playing field would have been much more level.


From: BC (sort of) | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged

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