Do you hear it? It is the useless plaint of those who would unite the left-leaning parties to fight the rogues of the right. It is a bit more strident when you play with figures and reveal that only 18 per cent of Ontario voters actually voted in favour of the conservative majority in the Ontario legislature. But it would not help if you could get those left-leaning parties together.
I think it has something to do with dynamics, or physics, or chemistry of the two parties, or maybe just common sense. The objective of the NDP, since being founded as the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the 1930s, has been to replace the liberals in the hearts and minds of the voters. The liberals have always been the enemy in the ridings. Despite this aggressiveness, they have been known to cooperate in legislatures and in parliament and have made support deals there when they can.
With both liberals and NDP fighting over the same turf in Canada’s cities, it has been noted that NDP voters often tend to switch to the conservatives when they cannot vote for the NDP candidate. And so do many liberals. In fact, if the liberals and NDP ever did connect and become a single liberal democratic party, there would be a serious bleed of so-called blue liberals (the ones who delude themselves that they can be financially conservative) out of the back of the liberal’s big tent. The conservatives would benefit.
It is hard to judge the differences between the liberals and NDP at election time. That is when the new democrats take everything out of the fridge and spread it like a picnic feast for the voters. It is always too much and it hurts the party’s credibility. All the major parties join in the game of offering the voters their own money for their vote.
But it all, in the end, comes down to leadership. While the Liberals in Saskatchewan can merge with the conservatives there, and disappear, and the liberals in British Columbia are believed to be conservatives, the only real merger has to be at the federal level. That is not in the cards under the current liberal leader. The next federal leader of the liberal party will have a serious challenge in democratizing and rebuilding the abused and dispirited grass roots of the party.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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