Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hargrove goes over to the dark side

Future Liberal Senator Basil Hargrove stabbed Jack Layton in the back on Friday, when he embraced Paul Martin and threw the support of the Canadian Auto Workers union behind the Liberals. The fact that Hargrove said the CAW would support the NDP candidate in any riding where he/she has a better chance than the Liberal of winning the seat does little to lessen the harmful impact of his message. Hargrove said, “If you look at the record, and every Canadian should agree, this government, this minority government, deserves to go back to Ottawa with even bigger numbers.” The sub-text was: Only the Liberals are in a position to stop scary Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. This is the message that did so much damage to the NDP in the last election, driving many potential supporters to vote Liberal – and sometimes electing Conservatives as an unintended consequence.

But the perfidy of Hargrove is only a superficial aspect of a deeper problem for the New Democrats. Over the years the NDP has become little more than a slightly leftish version of the Liberal Party – and a far cry from its anti-capitalist roots in the Regina Manifesto of 1933 that established the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), forerunner of the NDP. The planned economy advocated in that document can no longer provide a blueprint for the future. But Canada, and the world, is facing a looming crisis of global capitalism, driven in the first place, but not limited to, the coming end of the petroleum era. In its current liberal/social-democratic incarnation, the NDP has next to nothing to say about this. “Let’s pour more money into our health-care system” is a mantra that won’t do the trick at a time when an imaginative, comprehensive neo-socialist agenda is called for.

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