The NDP was born when the farmer-based socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation merged with organized labour early in the 1960s. It produced a party that was undeniably influential in the creation of Canada's social safety network throughout the sixties and the seventies. I myself am a centrist and a Red Tory, and not sympathetic to all of the NDP policies, but I respect the NDP's importance as the social conscience of parliament. I also think Bob Rae was the best Ontario premier since Bill Davis, but that's another story.
Anyway, since 1993, it's clear that the NDP vision no longer resonates with many Canadians. Idealistic though they be, they've struggled to maintain parlimentary status both in Ottawa and in Ontario. In the meantime, the Green Party has been surging. They basically tied the NDP in these two ridings. In previous Ontario byelections, they placed third, ahead of the NDP. In British Columbia, they posed a strong challenge for the position of official opposition.
The Green Party appears to be collecting support from a new, young left wing. In this country where more and more people have become disaffected by the political process, the youth have led the way, reducing our voter turnout, believing the process to be irreparably corrupt. That the Green Party could reach these people, as well as provide a platform to those concerned with environmental issues, suggests that there is a poltical charge out there, just looking for the right lightning rod.
The NDP has never formed the government in Canada, but because of their pressure we now have our medical system, our unemployment insurance program, better access to education and a narrow gap between rich and poor that other countries really envy. As the years have gone by, this social safety net has been eroded and cut back, and a large portion of the population no longer feels connected with the mainstream political parties. A party that can channel this disaffection into political action can change this country for the better.
The Greens alone don't hold all the answers. Between them and the NDP, they received only 12% of the vote. But the NDP acknowledges that it needsto reinvent itsefl to appeal to more Canadians on the centre-left. The Greens are tapping into something, and they deserve to be at the table.
Erin, a democratic socialist and an American asks me "what's a Red Tory? Is that something like being a good vampire?"
Well, I guess. I love to watch Angel. I'm a Tory with a soul, doomed to wander the Earth, helping the poor and the oppressed on the way to my own redemption.
I also look good in black.