Queer activist Peter Bochove is furious about what he calls the “cozy relationship” between the NDP and the Conservatives. So furious, that recently ripped up his NDP membership.
“The behaviour of the federal NDP has left me slack-jawed,” wrote Bochove in a recent letter to the Toronto Centre NDP association, explaining why he left the party. “When I vote for a candidate or party, I expect them to oppose the government if they do not form the government.”
Bochove says that the NDP’s support for the Conservative’s tough-on-crime agenda is just one example of how the party is keeping the Tories in power until they are able to win a majority government.
This week, the Tories confirmed that the NDP would support C-10, a bill that would increase the mandatory minimum sentence for gun crimes. The Conservative’s original plan was to increase the minimum sentencing time for repeat convictions, but the NDP negotiated to lessen the minimum penalty.
Pundits have recently speculated that the Tories would use one a justice bill – perhaps one sending thrice-convicted criminals to jail permanently – to deliberately lose a confidence vote and trigger a spring election. But with the support of the NDP, C-10 and other justice bills should easily pass, and the Tories will likely stay in power for now.
NDP MP Libby Davies argues that the election speculation was never confirmed.
“If [Stephen Harper] wanted to go to an election, he could either call an election or he could play up this idea that we’re fighting all these crime bills.”
Davies says she is very concerned about the Conservative law-and-order agenda, but defends the position of her party.
“Our leader took a position in the last election to support increases to mandatory minimum sentencing for gun crimes. But that doesn’t change our view that the emphasis should be on prevention of crime,” she says.
Bochove still thinks that the NDP’s support for the Tories tougher sentencing penalties is “disgusting,” and he says more Canadians probably feel the same way.
“You don’t solve a social issue by building more prisons, unless you want to be the United States. I don’t think the NDP should be conspiring with the Conservatives.”
Bochove believes that the NDP no longer has a social conscience. He points to the party’s lack of commitment to oppose the age of consent legislation, especially since that the bill does not address the age of consent for anal sex.
With the Conservatives consistently at the top of polls, Bochove isn’t convinced that an election tomorrow would result in getting rid of them.
“I think we need to look at the next election and getting rid of this government as our priorities. Our only viable option is the Liberal Party, and I’m not happy to say that.”