Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Mulcair’

Who leads Canada’s progressives?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

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.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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Solidarity for now.

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Reflecting on unions on Labour Day is routine for left of centre politicos. When you have laboured with brothers and sisters of the movement, you want to give them credit for their solidarity, for their conviction, for their dedication and you want to lambaste them for their pig-headed obstinacy.

But what nobody is willing to understand is that when Harper and company have finished destroying labour unions in Canada, we will have also destroyed Canada’s middle class. The divide between the very rich and the rest of us will a wide and deep void. We will be the clones in Stephen Harper’s Brave New World. We lowly workers will have to learn to love Big Brother.

We are at a crossroads. Tomorrow is decision day in Quebec and where is Thomas Mulcair, leader of Canada’s New Democrats and saviour of unions? Is he leaving the field to Pauline Marois of the Parti Québécois? Where is Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario New Democrats and saviour of Ontario unions? Why is she letting Premier Dalton McGuinty blame teachers’ unions for the provincial deficit?

Despite the federal NDP turning to a professional politician such as Thomas Mulcair for leadership, this union based party is not doing the job. It is not making the case for what unions really mean in Canada. It was the struggle in the 1930s to bring management to the bargaining table that brought our nation out of the Great Depression. It was the momentum of manufacturing to support the Second World War that entrenched the labour movement as a Canadian institution. Our country survived that war, richer, more confident and with a more level playing field for our citizens.

The weakness for the unions was in the creation of the New Democratic Party as common ground for the old Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and Canada’s labour movement. Instead of putting their trust in the party, the unions wanted to run it.

It has left the NDP as a party of the past. It still lives in the strife of the Dirty Thirties. It has failed to move to a social democratic stance that can be attractive to all caring Canadians. It has failed to articulate the case for a modern union movement that is based on a partnership with the contributions of management.

The true social democrats in Canada are the left wing of the Liberal Party. These are the people who have to grasp their party’s upcoming leadership campaign and ensure that the new leader opens the door to New Democrats who want to defeat Stephen Harper and see the union movement move into the 21st Century.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to