Canada
3 min

Job one: ditch Harper

With election looming, progressives need to work together

Any day now there’s going to be an election. Or at least there could be one if all parties, including both the Liberals and the NDP, gang up on the Harper government.

It’s the right time for it. We were recently treated to the re-emergence of Brian Mulroney. We got to see the camera focus again on a former PM who carried the nickname Lyin’ Brian in the 1980s.

And then came John Baird’s performance in Bali to remind us that the Harper government really does have an agenda for global warming: deny, obfuscate, delay, muddy, pretend — anything but directly deal with the greatest threat facing the planet, the most important issue by far of our time.

We Canadians know that the Liberals under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin talked a good talk but failed to adequately act against global warming. They were finally, inadequately, getting around to it when they lost power. But the Harper Conservatives, Baird reminded us in spades, have no intention to take the issue at all seriously. Most of us were unhappy at the Liberal foot-dragging. But we were humiliated, and many of us took it personally, when the world bestowed on us the Fossil Award at Bali.

It seems Canadians may finally have had enough of this government. Its underlying beliefs and well-camouflaged agenda are now becoming evident to the urban and suburban citizens who have the votes to end Harper’s career at the ballot. The Conservatives are no longer ahead in the polls after the Bali fiasco. Perhaps even Quebec is finally getting over its deep anger over the sponsorship scandal — or at least measuring it against more important issues like global warming and the need for an exit strategy for Afghanistan.

Stephan Dion may be awkward and too professorial. But at least he understands environmental issues, human rights issues, Afghanistan — and had nothing to do with the sponsorship scandal. He is, for those who live in the real world, the only alternative at the moment to Stephen Harper as prime minister.

But what of the NDP? Jack Layton and gang brought down the Paul Martin Liberal government in the midst of a spree of progressive legislation. For two elections in a row he’s asked Canadians to send him more MPs to be able to stand up for them and ensure progress on progressive issues. But what has he done? He’s kept Stephen Harper and his dinosaurs in government and focussed his attacks on the Liberals — who are not even in power.

This is truly bizarre behaviour until you realize that Layton has an agenda: he’s gambling the Liberals are so unpopular after the sponsorship scandal that they can finally be nearly wiped out in Quebec and Ontario and the spoils divided between the NDP and the Conservatives as traditional Liberal voters hunt for a new home (for an intriguing read promoting this strategy, read former Capital Xtra contributor and former Layton strategist Jamey Heath’s book Dead Centre: Hope, Possibility and Unity for Canadian Progressives.) The NDP is desperate: it’s been on the verge of disappearing itself as many supporters backed the Chretien Liberals and more recently the Green Party.

Most progressives have had enough of Harper and it’s time Layton and Dion got out of the way. Voters need a chance to get rid of a government that’s compromising all our futures with its stand on global warming (and its anti-woman, anti-gay moves like slashing funding for the Status of Women Canada, eliminating the court challenges program and raising the age of consent).

Layton doesn’t like it, but many, many traditional supporters see one of the NDP’s roles as helping form a progressive front against the rise of a Conservative majority government. Even when the NDP has to pay a price in its own potential growth.

It’s time for Layton, Dion and Elizabeth May to work together to get rid of the Harper government — for good. It’s time to make deals that ensure each riding elects the progressive candidate with the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. Even if that means helping return the Liberals to power and reducing the number of potential seats for New Democrats. The Liberals and Greens are already talking about these kinds of deals, now it’s time for the NDP to join in.

City voters — including most gays and lesbians — want to see the end of the Harper government. What would happen if we followed that through, punishing in the next election any party that puts their own selfish wants ahead of our need to get rid of these dinosaurs?