Death of a political party: NDP and the unions.

What always divided Canada’s social democrats, be they liberal or socialist, was never dogma or heroes. It was the unions. The liberals saw Canada’s unions as regressive. They were reactionary, self-centred, living in the past and, in too many cases, tied to international unions that worked against this country’s nascent nationalism. When the Canadian Labour Congress wed the old Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and created the New Democratic Party, it was the dominance of the unions that created the depth of divide. This was not the party of Tommy Douglas.

At the same time, the New Democrats saw the Liberals as intellectual snobs and trending more to the right politically. It was the shared dislike and distrust between the two parties that created the phenomenon of working class electoral districts switching between the New Democrats and the Conservatives. Instead of being positioned as an answer to the need for reform, the Liberals were the enemy.

But time heals and necessity accelerates process. Since the Rae Days of the mid 1990s, unions have been drifting away from the Ontario New Democrats. What was once a rare union forming brief alliances with the Liberals has become a flood of support. Leaderless and aimless, Ontario’s New Democrats have crashed. They zigged to the right when they should have zagged to stay on the left of the Liberals.

And all the credit goes to Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. This is the guy who is promising to create a million jobs if Ontario voters let him fire a hundred thousand civil servants. He honestly believes that if he lowers our business taxes even further than they have been and destroys the union movement in Ontario, it will magically create jobs.

Can you blame the unions for fighting back? They are being disowned by the New Democrats and will be screwed by the Conservatives. In the time honoured tradition of “The enemy of my enemy is my friend…” the unions are lining up with the Liberal Party. The movement started with building trades and teachers and now service workers are crossing the line. What started a few years ago as a squabble between some of the unions has turned into a stampede to the Liberals.

How could any member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Ontario support the New Democrats after they pulled the plug on the Liberals just when the union was getting the deal the union had worked for years to get from the Ontario government? They were finally going to have home care workers earning above the poverty line.

So this is strategic voting folks. There is no equivocating on this issue. There are only two choices on June 12. You may vote for Timmy Hudak’s Conservatives if you wish. We will hope you are happy with each other. The other choice is Ms. Wynne’s Liberals. You need not worry if your hand shakes a little marking your “X.” Some liberals have that problem also. Good luck. We are going to need it.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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