Who leads Canada’s progressives?

Canadian media are a lazy bunch. They follow the paths of least resistance and false assumptions. Take this past week when some supposed progressives were gathered at the Broadbent Institute in Ottawa for its Progress Summit. The one question that was never answered was ‘Who were the Liberal Progressives at the gathering?’

Ed Broadbent never invited this progressive Liberal. Nor would this Liberal attend. This is not sour grapes. We know that Ed Broadbent is not progressive nor are the sponsors of the meeting. Ed Broadbent is a staunch unionist with a closed mind. He believes in the collective over the individual. He lives in the past.

More than a third of Canada’s union members are believed to vote Liberal. And as more and more unions move into the 21st Century, that number will grow. It is not that the unions are failing to support their members but they are recognizing their membership as individuals. Their strength as a union is in the individual initiatives of the members. The era of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ union is dead and gone.

Those Liberal apparatchiks who got into close combat with the urban New Democrats 30 to 40 years ago remember when what seemed solid CCF/NDP ridings swung wildly between the Conservatives and the supposed socialists. There was no transition through the Liberals who thought they were the middle ground. There was no middle ground. These voters were Conservative or NDP supporters and the Liberals were the traditional enemy. They started shifting en mass to the most likely non-Liberal solution.

Today’s New Democrats continue to change, more despite the Ed Broadbents than because of them. They are a melange of younger academics, environmentalists, the less progressive unions and a mixed battery of community activists. You would be hard pressed to define them as socialists and you would be in error to consider them progressives. The progressives were chased out of the party along with the radical Waffle some 30 years ago. Leaders such as Jack Layton were municipal activists and political populists.

And that leaves a guy like New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair in a bind. All he knows is what he learned as a Quebec style Liberal and he has some time under his belt as a frustrated but persistent opposition leader. All he has going for him is a very shaky base in Quebec from the now gone Orange Wave and an embattled Ontario wing. As a citizen of France as well as a Canadian citizen, his loyalty to Canada is going to be called into question during the campaign. That might be his mob out there but to lead, you really need to know where the mob wants to go.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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