It was disappointing. The coffee in my cup was just lukewarm as I finished reading a page and a half of the Toronto Star the other morning. The overly long story was about Ontario’s newly-anointed new democratic party leader. Her name is Marit Stiles. She certainly seems a step up after 13 years of the lack-lustre leadership of Andrea Horwath. Whether Ms. Stiles can ever figure out where the provincial NDP needs to go is the question.
At least she was saved the fund-raising and travel strains of a contested leadership. Competition might have helped her focus some of her thinking on the party’s direction. It is the same problem former Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh is having with the federal NDP. The labor relationship of the NDP belongs back in the party’s inception in the 1930s. You would think, some new thoughts would come to mind when closing on 100 years.
As long as the NDP remains locked in its reactive stance, it is going to be looked on as a being out of touch. The party does not seem to understand that 90 per cent of communication skills rely on listening skills.
Yet Stiles spoke to the folks at her party’s meeting on the weekend about their party being founded by labour, farmers and progressives. That was true for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the forerunners of the NDP, but the NDP forgot the farmers.
I remember a conversation I had with Saskatchewan MP Hazen Argue back in 1963 after he had lost the leadership of the new party to Tommy Douglas and had moved to the liberals. Hazen had some important truths to tell us about the farm vote. His particular concern was that having two national parties splitting the progressive vote was creating opportunities for the conservatives.
What Canada really needs is a liberal democratic party. As it stands today, it is the unions shopping the political parties for the best deal that is producing results such as the low turnout in the last Ontario election and four more years of very bad government. Ms. Stiles won the NDP leadership through default, rather than effort. Nobody knows whether she is a misstep or not.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
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