The Social Democratic opportunity.

New Democratic Party members have a rare opportunity over the next four years to create a political party for Canada’s future. They are uniquely based to change the NDP into Canada’s first social democratic party. It would be the kind of political party that the founders of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) were really contemplating when they wrote the ill-conceived and inflammatory Regina Manifesto.

The 1960 creation of the New Democratic Party (NDP) stepped away from some of the socialist rhetoric of the Regina Manifesto but still clung to the class-struggle as the union movement became a dominant force in the party. It was a major rekindling of the party but also created an on-going dichotomy between the socialists, unionists and progressives of the party.

In the subsequent 50 years of the New Democrats, some of the union support has been lost to the Liberals and the party has struggled with a more progressive stance and language. The party has been confusing the voters in some cases by seemingly running on the right of the Liberals. The fiscal conservatism promised by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in the last federal election hurt the party more than it helped. It enabled Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to offer ‘Real Change’ and make the idea stick.

But the truth is that Liberal Trudeau has yet to define where he stands in the right-left spectrum of politics. We will gain a much better idea of what his political stance might be over the next couple of years. Left or right is hard to determine when making promises but much easier to discern when managing those promises.

What will be learned over the next couple years will largely determine the direction for Canadian politics. We know now that the NDP certainly has to plan for a clearer view of the future. There is also a very large number of Canadian Liberals who fall into the progressive pot. It is that pot that needs to be stirred.

The question in two years will be: Do the New Democrats form a new social democratic party and invite progressive Liberals to join or do the New Democrats join the Liberal Party and help change it into a social democratic party? We should know the answer to that well before the next federal election.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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