A dear friend asked me
over Twitter today why I think she should vote Green and not NDP. I started
with 140 characters, then switched to a direct message, and then I wanted
formatting... So I wrote a blog post.
So Theresa, this is a short, but reasonably complete list of the reasons I
couldn't bring myself to vote NDP this election. Which is a pity really. I'd
like to live in a world where a party like the Greens didn't need to exist
because the mainstream parties actually did the Right Thing.
...but they don't do the right thing, and they shouldn't be rewarded for that.
The Tar Sands
If there is one fact that should be obvious to anyone who claims to know
anything about climate change, it's that the carbon reserves that we have in
Northern Alberta need to stay in the ground. The NDP are against Keystone
XL and Northern Gateway, but they do support Energy East.
So, either the NDP don't believe the millions of scientists who have stated that
this stuff has to stay in the ground, or they're pretending to support the oil
sector in an effort to get votes.
Either way, the NDP position is suspect and speaks to either their scientific
literacy or their authenticity. I'll let you decide which is more egregious.
Carbon Tax vs. Cap and Trade
The NDP has taken a cap/trade position (to the exclusion of a carbon tax)
against the advice of every prominent environmentalist and economist. This is
quite clearly done for political reasons, to separate themselves from the
Liberals and Greens who favour a carbon tax.
This wouldn't be such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that every reputable
environmentalist group will tell you that a carbon tax is the best way to
affect the change needed, and that cap/trade is a market non-solution. In other
words, the NDP is choosing its platform based on what it thinks will win them
power over what is right for the country. You may sense a theme developing.
Their position on the senate is untenable, impractical, and dishonest.
Ignoring for the moment that almost all of the countries
on the planet with a single governing house are what you and I might
refer to as banana republics, an upper house is a crucial check on the power of
the lower house, and in a parliamentary system like ours that vests so much power
in the hands of a single person, the prime minister, this is a Very Bad Idea.
On top of that, abolition is quite impossible
as it would require support for all of the provinces and every constitutional
lawyer in the country will tell you that there's no way you'll ever get everyone
on board with abolition.
No one is saying that the Senate shouldn't be reformed, but the NDP position of
abolition is not good policy. Once again, they're writing policy based on what
they think will play better with the public (abolition is much easier to
grasp than reform), as opposed to what would be good for the country.
After the 2011 election, the NDP, who had been talking
about electoral reform months earlier, suddenly came out in favour of first past
the post. I distinctly remember listening to CBC's The House, where the NDP MP
steadfastly supported FPTP with the typical platitudes of "it's worked for the
country for so long" etc. etc. None of this is surprising since it was
first-past-the-post that gave them that "orange wave" in Québec.
Then, just last year, they showed up late to the party on electoral reform and
did a big blitz where
they told everyone that if elected, they'd "make this Canada's last unfair
election". Then, as they rose in the polls, all of that rhetoric evaporated,
and now their issues page makes absolutely no mention
The Consortium Debate
Thomas Mulcair started this campaign saying he'd gladly debate anywhere, any
time, and he's finishing it having backed out of the one debate that was
guaranteed to have the most viewers out of the entire Election.
You can't claim to want to lead the country if you're going to run away from
debates with your opponents. It doesn't matter that Stephen Harper refused to
participate. In fact, Mulcair's refusal simply puts him in bad company, with arguably
Canada's worst Prime Minister in history.
The Consortium Debate could have been an opportunity to reach more than 10
million people (as opposed to the paltry 1.5 from the Maclean's Debate)
and publicly shame Stephen Harper for abdicating his responsibility to the
democratic process. Instead, through his actions, Mulcair legitimised Harper's
position and drastically limited the level of political discourse in Canada.
This reason alone would be enough to keep me from the NDP.
I want to make it clear that I still think that the NDP are better than the
Liberals and Conservatives, but I also think that they've fallen far, far from
their roots as the sensible socialist alternative. They've become a party of
pragmatists, shifting their principles toward whatever they think will win
them votes, and for me this is an unforgivable sin.
If you want to lead my country, I expect you to have ideals and principles
underlying your positions, policy that's supported by those principles, and
a leader that stands behind them. The CCF
was that kind of party, Tommy Douglas,
Elizabeth May and
Jeremy Corbyn are that kind
of leader, and voters can smell the stench of an impostor. They smell it on
Thomas Mulcair, and they certainly smell it on Justin Trudeau.
I voted Green because they're still the party of principle out there. They take
sometimes unpopular positions that are vested in principles as stated by the
party members. I don't agree with all of these positions, but I can live with
what I see as bad policy if it means that I can trust the party to follow
through with everything they say they represent:
- They called for a carbon tax more than a decade ago, when the science was in
but the public was strongly against it. They've never wavered on this.
- They've always opposed the tar sands because it's bad policy to support an
industry that's trying to kill everyone on the planet.
- They routinely call for order and respect in the House of Commons.
- They support the reduction of powers of the Prime Minister, because we
shouldn't be electing de-facto dictators, and for the increase in power of MPs
so that they can do the work of local representation.
- Their leader is an accomplished lawyer, parliamentarian and diplomat,
dedicated to her role as MP and advocate for a safe environment.
I also think that their position on the senate is silly and impractical, and
that their opposition to GMOs is anti-science and idiotic, but as it's clear that neither of these are
priorities in the party, I'm unconcerned given their positions on
real issues that actually matter.
When it comes time to vote in this election, who would you rather support, a
party that stands by what it says, or a party that has demonstrated that their
ideology and even their science will bend to pragmatism?