NDP changing times, changing directions.

The CCF—the party of Tommy Douglas—represented the working man, the farmer and the socially conscious in an era of rapid growth and acquisition after the Second World War. We had little time for CCF concerns or socialism in those exciting years but the party was respected as a political conscience. It was only when the Canadian Labour Congress was formed that the combination of the CCF and labour became a reality.

The problem many of us young left wingers had against the labour involvement was that we did not see labour as having a social conscience. We saw labour involvement as an “I’m alright Jack” attitude. We saw the use of labour’s muscle to benefit its members but not the average working stiff. It was union people who became the strong-arm organizers for the NDP in our urban centres and produced the highly effective canvassers that dominated elections in the less affluent areas until other parties learned how to do the same job.

Now more than 50 years after the CCF was dissolved into the successor New Democrats, the party has again reached a crossroads of conscience. The old socialists are gone. The experiment in governance such as the Bob Rae NDP Government in Ontario in the 1990s was a failure. The party is again seeking to re-invent itself. Its partnership with labour is crumbling. Individual unions are cutting their own deals with the Liberals. They are trying to exchange confrontation for reason and relationships. Labour has been leaving the Labour temple. There is no longer a “forever” in solidarity.

But the breakdown has left the New Democrat politicians floundering. The example of what happened to Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath last year was a cautionary tale. Her policy pronouncements sometimes fell on the political right of the Liberals. She confused her candidates and she confused the electorate.

And if you think it was a shame what happened to Andrea last year you should pay attention to the current troubles of federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Does he have policies? He has all kinds of policies. He might not explain them well. He might get confused on his statistics.

But does Thomas Mulcair have direction? No, his only purpose is power.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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