Vote for NDP is Vote for NDP
Dev Walia’s June 17 letter, “Vote for NDP is vote for Conservatives”, is disappointing in its short-sightedness and has dismayed me with its negative message. Just about everything that Mr. Walia said about the new Conservatives, and then some, is very true. But to gloss over the negative consequences of a Liberal majority by merely saying that the Liberals are less bad than the Conservatives amounts to little more than putting up with second-rate governance out of fear that one alternative would be even worse.
The Liberals have proven over the past 10 years that they are not willing to re-negotiate flawed trade agreements (as they promised) or replace the GST with a more progressive alternative (another promise) or protect our healthcare system from encroaching privatization. Furthermore, no doubt exists in my mind that Paul Martin and the Liberals do not believe that we should have sovereignty over our foreign and our defensive policies: Martin is willing to agree to joint missile defence plans with the Bush regime, which contrary to his claims, do include the weaponisation of space and was critical of Chrétien’s grudgingly keeping us out of Bush’s failed Iraq adventure (military exchanges notwithstanding), a point he re-emphasised by making David Pratt, the biggest war hawk in the Liberal caucus, Minister of Defence. And then there’s Martin caring so little about working people that he’s skirted labour regulations to pay his employees at Canadian Steamship Lines far less than the minimum wage in any Canadian jurisdiction. Finally, one must never forget that the Liberals have a number of anti-gay and anti-choice skeletons in their caucus (and even in Martin’s cabinet), which makes Martin’s attacks on Stephen Harper regarding social issues border on hypocrisy.
More importantly, however, by voting Liberals to keep out the Conservatives (who will not win anything in Quebec, key to Mulroney’s majorities, and will not do anywhere near well enough in British Columbia or Atlantic Canada to form a majority to begin with), or vice-versa, we prevent any meaningful change from occurring and we ignore the structural flaws in our electoral system, which allow parties to amass significant parliamentary majorities without carrying anywhere near a majority of the vote (Bob Rae, Mike Harris, and Jean Chrétien all won their majorities that way. And there’s those wacky provincial elections in Quebec, with 1966 and 1998 being particularly memorable for giving majority governments to parties that finished 2nd in the popular vote, by a 7 point margin in the case of 1966.). Like over 1/3 of Canadians, I’m tired of propagating the two party system. Mr. Walia, I urge you to reconsider your position.
Somebody else wrote another (far more eloquent and detailed) letter reminding readers of NDP accomplishments over the years and contrasting the social-democratic/Euro-Progressive policies of today's NDP with the right-wing policies of today's Conservative and Liberals.