Death of a political party: Absolving Andrea.

Maybe we are becoming jaded by politics but what is happening to the Ontario New Democrats might be momentous. We are watching a bastion disintegrate. It is like a news clip of the imploding of old hotels on the Strip in Las Vegas.

Ontario New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath ran true to form in the Northern Ontario debate yesterday. She came with anger. She only hurt herself. Instead of offering fresh ideas from the left to succour the north, she wasted time and energy on sour grapes. Nobody there wanted to waste time on gas plants. (These are gas plants that both the Conservatives and the New Democrats insisted on cancelling.) And nobody believes that Premier Kathleen Wynne is corrupt.

It is not that some old NDP stalwarts are not rushing their walkers to Andrea’s defence. One-time party strategist Robin Sears came to her aid in the Toronto Star this morning. He would be more credible as an apologist if he had not called his fellow old-time socialists “embittered NDP pensioners.” He better not say that in the hearing of one of those pensioner’s husbands, former party leader Stephen Lewis.

What got everyone laughing though was when he mentioned Andrea Horwath’s “steely” approach to leadership. The only possible steely aspect of Andrea might be her resemblance to a slinky toy that can go down stairs so quickly. It is just that she can never get back up.

The only effective support we have heard so far for Andrea was from a most unlikely source: the wife. This woman is a liberal in every sense. She also gets to read Babel-on-the-Bay posts before they get posted. Her comment the other day when reading about the demise of the New Democrats was “But don’t we need the NDP?”

Yes, we do. If we did not have some New Democrats around, we would have to invent them. In the same sense, we need the Green Party. God help us if they ever got elected to govern but we certainly need people to harp on the subject.

But there are vocal people in the Liberal Party who care deeply about our environment. There are also people in the party with a strong social conscience. We just have to make sure that we are heard. That would involve having somebody remind Justin Trudeau that liberals are free thinkers and he is not in a position to tell anyone what to think.

Robin Sears is old enough to remember the Waffle movement in the NDP and how much the party benefitted from the soul searching it provoked. It was like how Pierre Trudeau used to joke with us about our membership in the Get Off Your Ass (GOYA) group from the Pearson era Liberal Party.

There are also more than a few New Democrats who will be excellent additions to Liberal Party ranks.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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