Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Canada’s third party lives—by a bitter thread

“The [New Democratic Party] has moved a long way from any real critical stance about the present economic system and formal commitment to changing it . . . People say right now, ‘What does the NDP stand for?’ It is hard to distinguish between them and the Liberals and some people are asking why we need two parties.”


“Organizations have their own culture and part of the NDP culture is that they hate the Liberals.”

—James Laxer, former NDP leadership candidate in an interview with John Ivison, National Post, October 8, 2010.

So, there we have it—Canada’s social democrats will hang on. Finally, an honest, albeit, waning explanation.

New Democrat politicians stopped being socialists and started calling themselves social democrats decades ago. They practice brokerage politics and envision change strictly within our charter democracy and mixed economy. In Canada, “godless socialists” are only godless—and then only amongst friends.

Canadians finance a full-blown third national political party and accept the odds of interminable minority governments because NDP campaigners don’t like Liberals and have been patronized, double-crossed, and betrayed by them in the past. That hurts.

But, really, Conservatives have feelings too. Laxer raises the one challenge that Stephen Harper faced uniting a divided right and that Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton, thus far, have ducked on the left.  Beyond pragmatic arrangements amongst professionals in Ottawa, political transformation requires leaders who can persuade foes and close friends to give up old antagonisms and clichés, and share the spoils of future success.                                                                                                                                                        

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