Tag Archives: ndp

How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

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The NDP has always had strong environmental credentials, but in the past decade it has sat back and let other parties lead the charge. Although Jack Layton was a committed environmentalist, it often felt that environmental issues took a back seat to health care, education, and pensions during his leadership, and it was painful to watch the NDP oppose carbon taxes in BC and federally. As a result, people like me sometimes voted for the Green Party. But that’s changing.

The BC NDP now supports the carbon tax, and, more importantly, promises to use some of the proceeds to improve public transit. They’ve also strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, arguing not only against the environmental costs but the economic risks of the project to BC.

Federally, Thomas Mulcair has started pushing sustainable development in a big way, arguing that polluting industries need to internalize the costs of dumping pollution into the air, water, and land, including the oil sands. The ‘polluter pays’ principle. He’s also making an economic argument for protecting the environment.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Up until now, the debate has always pitted the environment against the economy. And when push comes to shove, the economy always wins. However, Mulcair is arguing that our zeal to export raw resources is harming other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing – the so called Dutch Disease. By framing sustainable development as an economic issue instead of a environmental one, Mulcair is creating a sharp contrast to the Conservative budget, which focuses on destroying the environment for economic gain.

And it looks like the Conservatives are scared. The last 3 polls have all shown the NDP in the lead, but the economy is the Conservative trump card. If Mulcair can convince Canadians that the Conservative’s approach to the environment is in fact harming the economy outside of the oil patch, the NDP lead will continue to grow. This interview with Mulcair explains his ideas in his own words. It’s worth watching, and I’d embed the video but CTV’s video player sucks.
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NDP Leadership Candidates – The Bald, Beard, & Brains

I’m still trying to decide who to vote for in the NDP leadership race. I didn’t know much about the candidates before, so I’ve been watching the debates and following the blogosphere. My criteria for leader – charisma, inspiration, and the ability to defeat Stephen Harper. Here’s who’s impressed me the most.

Nathan Cullen1. The BaldNathan Cullen
More than any of the other candidates, Nathan Cullen thrives in debates. Why isn’t he on tv more? He’s exciting, knowledgeable, and funny. Electoral reform and the environment (whoot!) are his top priorities, and he’s been a strong opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Lastly, he wants to beat Stephen Harper so bad he’s willing to consider joint nominations with the Greens and Liberals in some ridings. Most progressives I know would applaud him for this, but within some NDP circles the idea is kryptonite. I was a bit skeptical at first (as a voter I like having choice), but the plan has merits.
Strengths: Environmentalist, amazing debater, and willing to be bold.

Thomas Mulcair2. The BeardThomas Mulcair
More than any of the candidates, Mulcair looks like he should be Prime Minister. It’s the way he speaks. He’s normally calm and reasoned, but he can also be extremely passionate. His environmental credentials are top-notch, but he is often questioned about his commitment to the NDP because he comes from the Quebec Liberal Party. Personally, I think the NDP needs to widen its base and Mulcair is a good example of that. The real question is can the NDP transition from a great mustache to a great beard?
Strengths: Environmentalist, articulate in both languages, and passionate.

Brian Topp addresses supporters3. The BrainsBrian Topp
Brian Topp is considered the brains behind the NDP’s breakthrough in the past few years. He’s a smart guy and he’s reasonably charismatic, especially if you compare him to Stephen Harper. On a policy front, his priorities are fairer taxes and increasing funding to social services. The left-wing side of the NDP love him, and he’s received the most high-profile endorsements. His youtube channel is full of slick videos and celebrity endorsements, but he doesn’t excite me as much as Cullen or Mulcair.
Strengths: Smart and progressive.

If you want to get a better sense of the candidates, the debates are online. Here’s a collection of short youtube clips starting with a funny one from 22 Minutes.

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Tribute For Jack Layton

I can’t believe he’s gone. It hurts to think about, and I can’t believe I’m getting choked up about a politician. Jack Layton was an amazing man. May his hope, courage, and ideals live-on in future politicians.

Strategic Voting – #hashtagfail

Strategic voting sites were all the rage this election. Websites like Project Democracy used advanced seat projection models and the latest polls to determine what ridings would be close and how progressive voters should ‘strategically vote’ to stop the Conservatives.

What an utter failure (or ‘hashtagfail’ as my buddy Jack would say). Pundits Guide warned us that Conservatives love strategic voting sites, but few people listened. The promise of having your vote count in a system where so many votes are wasted was too strong to resist.

If you look at the closest races in Canada involving the Conservatives, all of them decided by less 2% of the votes cast, the ‘strategic’ recommendations were horrible. In the 10 races where strategic voting could have been effective, Project Democracy got 5 of them wrong, and the Conservatives won all five of those ridings.

Riding Result PD Strategy Verdict
Montmagny – L’Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup Cons +1101 +10 over NDP Vote Bloc FAIL
Nipissing – Timiskaming Cons +14 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Etobicoke Centre Cons +25 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Yukon Cons +132 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Elmwood Transcona Cons +284 over NDP Safe NDP Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Esquimalt – Juan de Fuca NDP +406 over Cons Vote NDP PASS
Bramalea – Gore – Malton Cons +538 over NDP Vote Liberal FAIL
Don Valley West Cons +639 over Libs Vote Liberal PASS
Mississauga East – Cooksville Cons +661 over Libs Safe Liberal Seat – Vote Anyone FAIL
Lotbinière – Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Cons +777 over NDP Vote NDP PASS

1 – vote difference in Montmagny reduced to 10 after counting error detected.

Unfortunately, in a first-past-the-post voting system, only 2 parties can be viable alternatives. Strategic voting is a failed coping mechanism. We need to either change the voting system or get ready for polarized American-style politics with the Conservatives battling the NDP across Canada. Even as an NDP supporter, it’s not a prospect I’m looking forward to. I’d rather have more choices.

Bitter Sweet Election Results


The NDP won over 100 seats. Elizabeth May is the first Green party MP ever elected in Canada. The Bloc Quebecois have lost official party status.

All great news, but what a shitty election result. I’m not sure I can handle four years of a Conservative majority government.

What happened to the Liberal vote in Ontario? Why is Manitoba and Saskatchewan so damn Conservative?

If the Liberals could have held more of their Ontario seats we could have had an NDP-Liberal-Green coalition government in charge of Canada. How awesome would that have been? A government that would have made electoral reform and the environment a priority. Instead, I weep for the future of Canada. Maybe we need to give students the right to vote, and take it away from old people – Student Vote gave a much better result.

I’m worried Canada is heading to a 2-party system, a consequence of the first-past-the-post electoral system. I prefer the NDP to the Liberals, but I think we need both parties, and I don’t want the see them merge. I want real electoral reform. A single-transferable-vote system where no vote is wasted, strategic voting is unnecessary, and vote splitting doesn’t lead to Conservative majority governments.

Easter 2011

PysankaWorking the KistkaSteady HandWinter Olympic Easter EggEaster Bunny EggJack Layton Easter Egg

Easter 2011, a set on Flickr.

Our Easter weekend was disrupted by the packing, moving, and unpacking, but Emily and I found time on Monday night to make some Ukrainian Easter eggs, aka Pysanky. Emily made a traditional one and a more contemporary Easter bunny themed egg. I was inspired by our new home and the recent news articles about the Orange Wave sweeping Canada, so I did an Olympics themed egg and an Jack Layton egg.

Time to Ride the Orange Wave


Who said this election was boring? The political map in Canada is about to see the most radical changes in my life time. I’ve been a life-long NDP supporter, especially with Jack Layton at the helm, but I never thought I’d see an NDP surge wash across the country.

Multiple polls are showing the NDP surpassing the Liberals for 2nd place nationwide. More surprising, they’ve surpassed the Bloc in Quebec. The Bloc has been a dominant force in Quebec since 1993 – always winning at least 50% of the seats. But its bleeding votes to the NDP. Could this be the end of the separatist movement? A death at the hands of the NDP? To start to contemplate what the NDP’s rise in Quebec means, read this Pundits Guide article.

And it’s not just Bloc supporters that are moving to the NDP. The NDP is taking votes from the Conservatives in the Prairies, the Liberals in BC, everyone in Atlantic Canada, and the Greens all over the country. The NDP are the preferred 2nd choice of supporters from every party, including the Conservatives. And even with the recent surge in support, the NDP has the most room to grow. Check out these numbers from the most recent Ekos poll – 24.7% choose the NDP as their first choice, and 25% as their second.

Voters 1st and 2nd Choice
Source Ekos poll April 21, 2011 (pdf)

I’m sure more than a few progressives are concerned about vote splitting, now that the NDP and Liberals are essentially tied nationally. However, the NDP rise is eating more into the Conservative and Bloc seat totals then the Liberals. This projection has the NDP at 60 seats, the Liberals up to 82, with the Conservatives and Bloc both losing seats, down to 134 and 32.

Exciting stuff. Get out and vote! Together we can!
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