So, not once but twice this week, CAW prez Buzz Hargrove, a card-carrying NDP member, has been seen overtly supporting the Liberals in order to stem the tide of Conservative support. Late this week, he was alongside Martin in Windsor, Ontario, a region that currently has two NDP Members of Parliament.
The distancing of the union base of support from the NDP (and vice versa) is not new. In fact, just prior to the federal election call, the provincial NDP in British Columbia overwhelmingly supported a resolution to distance itself from organized labour. Personally I don’t see that as an inherently bad thing. If we want the other two mainstream parties to put some distance between themselves and corporations, then it’s only fair to expect the NDP to do the same with labour groups.
However, doing so shouldn’t mean a total repudiation. I would agree with Hargrove that in places where the NDP is doomed to (at best) a third-place finish, it only makes sense to vote strategically to prevent vote-splitting that would give the seat to the Conservatives. But in places like Windsor or even urban parts of Nova Scotia, the NDP holds and has a good chance of continuing holding seats. In other places, the NDP came a strong second in the 2004 round, leading many to believe that a concerted effort could lead to seizing those seats. So Hargrove seems to be
minimizing ignoring that voting NDP in same places could have the effect he desires.
If indeed we’re heading towards another Liberal minority government after January 23, we need to have the NDP hold the true balance of power. Let’s not forget that, overall, the Liberals have drifted considerably to the right of centre in the last decades. Therefore, a strong NDP presence can ensure they won’t drift any further, which I believe is what Canadians want. I believe that’s what they want, because look at how they’re still not warming to the Conservatives.
Of course, this post doesn’t address in any way the situation in Québec, where the BQ hopes to win an absolute majority of the popular vote as well as most of the seats. There are two election campaigns going on right now: the one in Québec and the one in the rest of Canada. But then, Canadian federal politics are slated to be a dog’s breakfast for many more years to come.