A back door to unity of the left.

British Columbia candidate for the NDP leadership, MP Nathan Cullen, has a back door approach for his party to have an accommodation with the Liberals.  It is simple.  He wants the local ridings to decide if they will run a Liberal or NDP candidate.  When the parties agree on who will run against the Tories, the other party will not run a candidate there.  It is a suggestion that likely sets him far apart from fellow candidate Brian Topp.  It is also likely to meet ridicule and derision from a few of the people who like to think they run the Liberal Party of Canada.

While this writer sympathizes with what Cullen is attempting, it is not really a practical solution.  As things stand, the leader of either party has the power to negate such decisions by appointing a candidate for the electoral district over any objections from the local party members.  This very undemocratic state of affairs obviously never bothered Jack Layton when he was leader.  (Who do you think appointed all those unusual NDP candidates in Quebec earlier this year?)

Changing the constitution of both parties in time for the next federal election would be a daunting task.  Both parties have people with a vested interest in the status quo.

While the unions have been gradually losing their influence in the NDP, there are still union members of the party from the old school of socialism.  These socialists are not social democrats in the understood use of the label.  They are people who still see their role as that of carrying on the class struggle.  To them, Liberals are the enemy.

Of course, there are also Liberals who want a piece of the action in that confrontation. These are Liberal Party members whose views are much closer to those of the Conservatives.  Liberal philosophy is based more on the rights of the individual in society than a dogma of the left or right.

The clash Liberals have with Conservatives is the right wing lack of concern for the individual in favour of property rights, their subjugation of women and concern for the conservation of wealth.  Conversely, Liberals have less and less conflict with social democratic philosophy which has greatly softened the socialist emphasis on the rights of the collective.

Those of us who take the left-of-centre position in the Liberal party come from a position of a strong social consciousness.  We recognize that we cannot claim equality for the individual in our society until health care, education, shelter needs and employment opportunity are truly equal for all Canadians.  We have a long way to go.  We can only start by ensuring that all who share our dream can work together.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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