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Author Topic: CBC's Life and Times: The Lewis Family
'lance
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posted 05 May 2002 12:29 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey skdadl:

Did you know that Stephen Lewis was "attacked from the rear by a snarling pack"... to wit, the Waffle?

This according to Michelle Landsberg.

Did you further know that the Waffle was full of "young people convinced they knew everything"?

This according to Jim Laxer.

love,

'lance
skeptic without portfolio

(p.s.: I have to confess, I might be able to put just a little bit of stock in the second claim. It was the late 60s/early 70s, and, well, you know young people. But I'd be interested in your reactions to either one. Did you see the program?)


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Michelle
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posted 05 May 2002 01:53 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Life and Times of the Lewis Family (CBC Life and Times Website)
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
vaudree
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posted 05 May 2002 12:02 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not trying to piss off anybody, but what is the difference between waffle and Judy's group at the federal NDP convention? It is just that my spider sense is telling me that there is some similarity in the make up of the two groups and their ideology. My spider sense could be wrong.

I had heard of David Lewis (my mom has a copy of his book when it first came out), and Stephen Lewis, and, of course, Avi Lewis, but I didn't know that they were all related. They made out Stephen to be another Goselyn Mallard - was that an accurate portrayal. Would explain how Avi could fill a room with energy, but that Shari Lewis can't since she seems to make sure her HSP fans do not get too aroused too often.
http://www.hsperson.com/
I didn't realize that these guys married such famous wives either.

[ May 05, 2002: Message edited by: vaudree ]


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Michelle
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posted 05 May 2002 12:08 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I watched it too - I stayed up until 3 a.m. this morning just so I could see it after 'lance's heads-up. I found it really interesting, learning more about that little family dynasty, but holy cow, are all the Life and Times biographies that complimentary? I thought I was going to die from sugar shock.
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vaudree
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posted 05 May 2002 12:16 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Jan Arden talks about her drinking and one night stands and Mary Walsh talks about her sordid sexual past and her bout with the bottle. And Tim Horton, that one would be more to your liking - they give dysfunctional new meaning. Buzz Hargrove will tell you more dirt than you want to know - including his big advice to his daughters - which, of course, they ignored - "do as I say not as I do."

Liked the Tommy Douglas one though - even with the sugar.
Here is the list by name
http://www.tv.cbc.ca/lifeandtimes/general/past.htm

[ May 05, 2002: Message edited by: vaudree ]


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'lance
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posted 05 May 2002 12:40 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The programs I've seen have generally been very complimentary. This, I thought amounted to hagiography.

I should clarify my first post: I'd be interested in hearing not only from skdadl, but from anyone who was involved in, or remembers the Waffle.

From the one or two comments Jim Laxer made, I got the impression he'd totally repudiated the movement.


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Arch Stanton
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posted 06 May 2002 11:48 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I always thought the Waffle was in there, and I was ticked at the NDP for shutting them out.

Mind you, I was only about 10 at the time.


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'lance
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posted 06 May 2002 12:18 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was even younger, but I loved the Waffle. It was kind of a rare treat though. We usually got the Pancake.
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vaudree
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posted 06 May 2002 05:10 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Loooking at the show again - what did it tell us about the waffle. They said that it engaged in charactor assasinations rather than debated the issues (I don't know if this was the case) and that it had a "Don't trust anyone under 30" attitude. Other than that, we don't get very much of an idea, from the peice, what they stood for, except that Lewis's supporters believed that it would dismantle the structure Lewis helped build. I don't know whether it would or not.

Anyone who taped it and can study the part just preceding the waffle a little bit closer - what aspects of the party were being stressed just before that - I can't remember. I, like Michelle, was half asleep.


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'lance
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posted 06 May 2002 05:13 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There wasn't a whole lot about the party itself just prior to this, as I recall. Most of the focus was on personalities.
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vaudree
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posted 06 May 2002 05:20 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But there was a bit - and part of personality is how one sees oneself and the world - part of it is the personification of party principles as they are interpreted by one man and his hyperactive class-skipping argumentative son. At least that's how I remember their description of Stephen as a boy. Did his mother not tell his sister not to bother aruguing with him?
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vaudree
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posted 07 May 2002 01:42 AM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Waffle was being defined as everything that was left that was not David or Stephen. So what we have to do is find out what David and Stephen stood for and consider the Waffle to be the opposite of that while still being left. In otherwords forget that the right and the centre exists and consider them opposite aspects of the left. If we did this, what would the Waffle look like?

Actually, maybe it would be easier to see what the left that David and Stephen personified looked like first and after that it will be easy to extrapulate what waffle was like.


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Judes
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posted 07 May 2002 06:58 AM      Profile for Judes   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I didn't see the Life and Times of the Lewis's but I was around for the Waffle...just a young thing at the time.
The Waffle had very good and left-wing politics. \You can look up the Waffle Manifesto...not sure if it's on line but you can find it in a library.

The Waffle was ahead of its time on women's rights, Canadian nationalism, right of self-determination for Quebec, environmentalism as well as the usual left wing stuff about nationalization of the means of production etc.

It is true that the Waffle was sectarian...so was everyone in those days of my line is better than your line but so were the Lewis's sectarian towards the Waffle. David Lewis for all his positive points was amega cold warrier and saw Communists in the Waffle.

The party tore out its heart when it drove the Waffle out of the party. It was a tragedy from which the NDP never recovered.

Michele Landsberg, who is a good friend of mine, is bitter against the waffle becuase of the horrible way they treated her and Stephen. There is no excuse for this of course but it was the temper of the times


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vaudree
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posted 07 May 2002 01:43 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The CCF became the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1961. The federal party's new leader, T.C. Douglas, represented unionist causes, and its new program called for more economic reforms than the party's Winnipeg Declaration of 1956. The Waffle Manifesto, which the party drafted in 1969, emphasized the need to protect Canada from foreign exploitation. The NDP advanced this cause particularly in Alberta, where the Social Credit government had allowed American companies to dominate the oil and gas industry. Yet the majority of Albertans, many of whom worked for these companies, supported the Manning government's lack of intervention.
What is the major difference in the choice of the two terms: Social Democrats and Democratic Socialists? What is the difference of emphasis in the two terms? Which is most easily exploited by fear monglerors?

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Boinker
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posted 07 May 2002 07:05 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think people forget what true 70's radicalism was. It was revolutionary radicalism. It called for an ovethrow of the entire establishment and a transformation of civilization , primarily western Civilization. The idea was that all our assumptions, beliefs, habits and security blankets were to rebutted, revealed as lies, and burned before our eyes...

In this context the quaint left "traditions", the labour union courted by David Lewis who attempted to sell the masses on the idea of an enlightened working class, seemed mind numbing feet dragging. But this approach was also quickly buried with the media assault and the entire Archie Bunker ethos which ossified the image of the working class as hopelessly moribund and without a social conscience. The salvation was his insufferable fledging yuppie offspring.

It is almost like watching history in reverse. We went through radical idealism to conventional idealism as in Stephen Lewis to the political realism of Bob Rae and then on to the cynicism and oppresiveness of the Mike Harris "revolution".


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'lance
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posted 07 May 2002 07:11 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think people forget what true 70's radicalism was. It was revolutionary radicalism. It called for an ovethrow of the entire establishment and a transformation of civilization , primarily western Civilization. The idea was that all our assumptions, beliefs, habits and security blankets were to rebutted, revealed as lies, and burned before our eyes...

Yabbut, was that the Waffle programme?

Geez. They were more fire-breathing than I thought.

Edited to add:

The Waffle Manifesto is here, on the website of (ptui!) Socialist Action.

[ May 07, 2002: Message edited by: 'lance ]


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rbil
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posted 07 May 2002 08:56 PM      Profile for rbil     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The Waffle was ahead of its time on women's rights, Canadian nationalism, right of self-determination for Quebec, environmentalism as well as the usual left wing stuff about nationalization of the means of production etc.

Judes, don't forget that many young people in the Waffle were Trotskyites and Moaists. The Communist Party of Canada was as much ahead of their time, if not more so then the Waffle. The main "enemy" of the CPC amongst the Left were the two mentioned groups. So young Canadian radicals, looking for a place outside of the CPC, joined the NDP and naturally became part of the left wing caucus, the Waffle. It was the dedication and the hard work of these young activists that lead to the type of grassroots organization that brought about the election of the Barrett government in BC.

David Lewis was certainly more progressive on many issues than Trudeau. But, probably more of an anti-communist than Trudeau and certainly very active in assisting in the removal of Communists from leadership positions in many of the unions.

The Waffle scared the hell out of the old NDP/CCF establishment and it didn't take long for many of them to be thrown out of the Party or leave in disgust as the NDP moved further and further to the right, from whence it has never returned.

Cheers,
Rene


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rbil
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posted 07 May 2002 09:30 PM      Profile for rbil     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
'lance ... look here:

http://www.socialistaction.ca/lp-ndp_docwaff.html

Cheers,
Rene


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'lance
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posted 07 May 2002 09:55 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks, rbil, but that's the same link I posted above.
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vaudree
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posted 07 May 2002 09:55 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We went through radical idealism to conventional idealism as in Stephen Lewis to the political realism of Bob Rae and then on to the cynicism and oppresiveness of the Mike Harris "revolution".
Are not the terms "radical" and "conventional" describing the same phenomenon from different perspective. Did not JS Woodsworth go through great trouble to "prove" that the "new" ideas of his new party were not really new at all, but based on the foundation of ...
quote:
70's ...It called for an ovethrow of the entire establishment and a transformation of civilization , primarily western Civilization. The idea was that all our assumptions, beliefs, habits and security blankets were to rebutted, revealed as lies,
That was the '60's and died with the cynical 70's where my generation watched hippies digi-volve into yuppies. There was a pop song about this baby-with-the-bath-water mentality where this guy sang about this girl who was a member of the underground spouting everything she was against but not what she was for - the other song that has the line "but who do you love."

[ May 08, 2002: Message edited by: vaudree ]


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vaudree
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posted 08 May 2002 01:12 PM      Profile for vaudree     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It called for an ovethrow of the entire establishment and a transformation of civilization
This here might be the big differences between the two lefts. Democratic socialism is about believing in elections and then getting in an overthrowing the system and starting over. Social Democracy is about changing the system from within - sort of like changing the lay out of the main floor by knocking out and putting in new walls, but in a systematic way so that the whole place does not collapse. Changing the structure with out destroying it so that it can accomodate a new type of society.

This left might see the other left as being more like the right when they get in - except that when the right scraps existing programs it is not to replace them with something else. Maybe the Lewis's were more foundation oriented and saw government as a house that you renovate rather than tear down completely before rebuilding. That the debate on the left is like the debates concerning whether historical buildings can or cannot be saved.

quote:
David Lewis was certainly more progressive on many issues than Trudeau. But, probably more of an anti-communist than Trudeau and certainly very active in assisting in the removal of Communists from leadership positions in many of the
unions.
This was the time of McCarthyism and when people were talking about the RED menace. The Liberals welcomed communists in the NDP because they could use it to frighten the average citisen with half truths. Out of this friction came the necessity for the CCF/NDP to promote it's democratic aspects because others were trying to brand them as undemocratic because they saw communism as undemocratic. This made us more democratic, more about issues than personalities and more about freedom of thought and choice than the other parties. The part of the waffle encorporated were those that could be lable democratic principles and the part that they tried to distance themselves from was anything that could be labled undemocratic or antidemocracy.

I am not saying that the Waffle promoted undemocratic ideas, but that they cared less whether what they said or did could be construed as anti-democratic - while other strong aspects of the NDP seems to accept or reject ideas based on how democratic they appear.

PS. This is my last double post on this thread (I did it by cutting my original post into two). This is my last try to keep the topic going and to try to find out what are both the differences and the perceived differences between the two lefts. This is the last time that I am going to cut a post in half to keep a topic on the frount page. But I figured it was worth the try.


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Boinker
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posted 09 May 2002 08:13 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Waffle as I recall it (I was a hippie graphic artist for the university newspaper at the time) was based on the idea of a desired result.

Economic nationalism was seen as a means to bring the means of production under democratic control. But there was much more involved. People were reading Hegel and Marcuse. They were talking, between joints, of raising consciousness and of liberating the masses from the orthodoxy of the Cold War. There was this idea that a real revolution was possible because the peace movement was so strong and so many people abhored violent solutions. It was the idea that if you were firmly committed to non-violence and non-materialism you could be as extreme as you like in your tactics and methods and in the end these would be beneficial to humankind.

I think hoeever, there was a strong element of Marxist sectarianism, in the Waffle. The tactic was to continually undermine the moderates and accomodators so that a radical centre could coalless.(sp?)

The result however was negative the tactics - sort of the poli-sci grad student approach - were inconsistent with the goal a more radical party that sought to popularize and liberate the working classes Lewis had sought to win over.

It was a fascinating idea. How would the Canadian political system deal with a radical leftwing party committed to nationalization of resources and banks - full fledged social welfare, a "Cuba of the North" party?

Then there was no doubt in any body's mind that there were macronomic choices and that private enterprise free markets was only one way to go.

I remeber talking to a number of the editors who attended the NDP bloodletting that resulted in the Waffle's expulsion. The intelligentia felt betrayed, they felt that the Lewis political machine was simply acting in a reflexive manner and not accepting the legitimate radicalism of the Canadian youth of the 70's.

I think that the following election results in 1974 reflected the disenchantment the public felt for the left which appeared to have ousted the youth wing of the party.

Of course we are all old crocks now.

Stephen Lewis was a young leader at the time and I believe accomplished much indirectly shaping the political landscape. But after that we had Gerry Kaplan who's thesis was infinitely worse than the Waffle. He is the chief author of the doctrine Bob Rae (and everyone else currently subscribes to) that only political power matters and that social movements are ineffective political tools.

The Waffle was saying let us be real by stating the radical socialist principles and offering them to the electorate in a concise, meaningful way. Things like you may only work three days a week with the equivalent loss of pay but you will have no mortagages. You may not be able to afford to go to the movies every week but your children will get free university education. No cable television with a thousand channels but six weeks of vacation, 50% tax rate but state of the art schools, hospitals, and childcare facilities. Fewer millionaires (perhaps none) but no poverty.

It wasn't believable or credible to the party hacks and still isn't.


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skdadl
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posted 10 May 2002 10:25 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I keep wondering what I can add here ... No, 'lance, I didn't see the program. I only arrived in Toronto in the summer of 1971, so I was present for only the last year of the Waffle -- I think the NDP provincial convention that ordered us to disband as a caucus was in June or early July of '72, and the Waffle convention that split the Waffle happened in August. For me, that was the end of participation with either resulting formation, although friendships persisted ...

Both Judes's summary and Boinker's meditations bring back lots of memories. Someone above mentioned that there were Trotskyists and Maoists in the Waffle: Maoists, no, I sure don't think so, but Trotskyists of a particular kind, yes. We also had one RCMP informer.

I knew Jim Laxer very well, the Lewises not at all (I met Stephen once but at a non-political backyard party). Laxer's challenge to David Lewis's leadership of the federal party, which happened before my time, was probably the Waffle's high point in terms of effectiveness; it really scared the establishment because it picked up so much support in the riding associations -- and thus probably sealed our fate a couple of years later. (Well -- that's a little Ontario-centric of me; there were strong Waffle groups elsewhere in the country, especially in Saskatchewan, and they carried on for some time.)

In theory the Waffle had no leader, but in Laxer's comment above you can hear his bitterness at the "West Metro Crazies" who challenged him and forced him to pretend to disband the Waffle in order to take his loyalists out and regroup. That's not an entirely objective summary, since the West Metro Crazies were my friends -- but I think it's not unfair. There was a lot of personality stuff and sectarian history going on between the Lewises and Laxer, as Rene and Judes have mentioned above, having to do with CPC history, eg, of much of which ordinary Wafflers were pretty innocent. I think about this now, and fear I have to say that the Lewises and the Laxers were, um, politicians of a fairly conventional kind after all, fixed on power and personality and star power. Interesting that their comments on the Waffle should still reflect that limitation.

Some of the West Metro Crazies, along with a group of younger students at U of T, formed a plan to enter the local (hide-bound, cultish, U.S.-movement-influenced) Trotskyists (were they called International Socialists then?) and try to move the group closer to the European section of the Fourth International. I knew and admired some of those people, learned a lot from them (Boinker is right: that side of the Waffle had the appeal of being a grad student again), but moved away from them at that point. Others will know IS history since then better than I do.

Mel Watkins, who for a long time was thought of sort of as a Laxer lieutenant, I always thought was more genuine and more interesting as a political thinker. Curiously, though he had the higher public profile at the time (mentored by Walter Gordon, Watkins Report in the sixties, etc) and could have been a political star if he'd stayed with the Libs, he seemed far less committed to the power games than Laxer, more immersed in working for real political change quite selflessly, I thought.

So lance: any fuel here for a lively discussion of Splittists! and Baiters! -- ?


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'lance
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posted 14 May 2002 11:40 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So lance: any fuel here for a lively discussion of Splittists! and Baiters! -- ?

Maybe... but it'd probably break down in sectarian wrangling...

Have you seen the Red Encyclopedia site? Very interesting. I notice he promises an upcoming section on Red Groups of Canada.


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Arch Stanton
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posted 15 May 2002 02:03 AM      Profile for Arch Stanton     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This might not add much to the dialogue, but I remember Dave Barrett fending off allegations of being a Waffler by telling the accuser that he was a pancake. Like I said, I was only about 10 or 11 at the time. I was living in BC at the time.

The day after the NDP defeat of the Socreds is my favorite political memory. Everyone on the street seemed to be on the same side (my brother and I were taking lawn signs from yards and loading them into our wagon. We were going to build forts out of them. People kept making positive comments to us about the NDP, while criticizing the Socreds).

A more recent memory is how Dave Barrett got the bum's rush from "Morningside," where he wasn't quite cosy with Kierens and Camp, and was replaced by Lewis. I used to think David Lewis was alright, but Stephen sounded like a pompous ass all the time on "Morningside."


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Boinker
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posted 23 June 2002 09:41 PM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stephen Lewis was a great speaker in the old fashioned sense. You could imagine him addressing parliament without a microphone. On radio he got clobbered by the media savants and stylists who enjoy the clipped phrase and the affirmation of some ridiculous and tangential introduction.

I think if the NDP wanted a reasonable and effective national leader, Stephen Lewis might be the man for the job.

He should make a run for it. Is he the national leader the NDP needs? I don't know.

Is he bilingual? Again I don't know but he has his heart in the right place which the NDP has somehow lost sight of as a primary feature of political leadership that needs to be communicated to the people.


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