Can we officially lay to rest the progressive pondering of a strategic voting alliance between Liberals, NDPers and other small-l liberals?
How about we even, I don’t know, declare war on it?
Because this week the difference between Canada’s social democratic NDP and the old-school Liberals and the Conservatives just got blindingly clearer.
The Tories and the Libs believe in war, a mutual conviction cemented last week when Liberal leader Stéphane Dion agreed to their pact to extend Canada’s war commitment in Afghanistan until at least 2011.
On the other side altogether, the NDP is a pacifist party that pushes more creative options for conflict resolution than blowing the shit out of people who have different beliefs than your own.
The NDP would like to see the United Nations, the official international organization of conflict resolution, brought into the discussion of the Afghan quagmire, while the Conservative-Liberal cabal are content to swear fealty to the rogue forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Last time I looked at a map, Afghanistan is a hell of a long way from the icy North Atlantic. When the former Eastern Bloc’s McCoys to our NATO Hatfields, the Warsaw Pact, waged war in Afghanistan, did anybody buy into whatever patriotic rhetoric they tried to clothe it in?
The Pact’s part as an invasionary force in the last ill-advised Afghan adventure was enough to send the once powerful Soviet Union to extinction.
The perpetually opportunist Liberals didn’t even wait for an election to be called before scuttling their professed progressive principles.
With just the hint of some electoral blowback if the war issue proved too complex for them to peddle, Dion’s party sidled up to the government, declaring generals should really be running things anyway.
The Liberals have long proven themselves addicted to power, and like sad junkies, they’ll do unspeakable things to get their fix.
Despite Dion’s goofy smile, silly brightly coloured vests and dog named Kyoto, his is a death-dealing party, the one that got us into this 21st-century Boer War in the first place – our nation’s blood-soaked consolation prize for not climbing into the hell that is Iraq with George W. Bush.
Afraid to fight the Tories so that our 20-somethings don’t have to fight a hopeless war of invasion, Dion has seized the opportunity created by one-time Liberal leadership hopeful John Manley and his trigger-happy report to say the war shouldn’t be an election issue.
Like Conservative PM Kim Campbell’s claim that elections aren’t the place for complex policy discussions, this punchline would be amusing if it weren’t offered as an excuse to sentence more people to be killed or maimed.
The Liberal/Tory twosome is more comfortable trading ongoing insults and accusations about corruption and mismanagement – “I’ll see your Airbus scandal and raise a Sponsorship fund” – than discussing actual life-and-death issues with the public whose families, and consciences, are directly affected by it.
Certainly Dion would be only too happy to keep his mouthy ex-leadership hopefuls, foreign affairs critic Bob Rae and torture-approving deputy leader Michael Ignatieff, muzzled on these topics during an election.
I’d rather support a party that doesn’t make excuses for killing. Backing Liberals because they are alleged to be more palatable than the Tories leads to an endless ream of rationalizations, a constant collection of claimed compromise that always ends in broken promises and the postponement of big dreams.
Why should we sell ourselves and our hopes short because of fear-mongers who would claim that Dion’s shape-shifting Liberals are more electable than the NDP?
To the 24-year-old from Val-d’Or or Stephenville zipped up unceremoniously into a black plastic body bag and shipped home via Trenton, Ontario, it doesn’t matter much that Dion claims to be “pinker” than Stephen Harper. Dead is dead, and with either Harper or Dion in power, the bodies will continue to pile, both here and back in Afghanistan.
Let’s hope Jack Layton’s NDP and the Bloc Quebecois will make sure that Canadians do get a chance to debate our indefensible invasion of Afghanistan and that progressives stop spending their time trying to convince us to put our principles on ice and hold our noses while we commit strategic suicide helping the Liberals soft-pedal a long-time legacy of betrayal.
(Skip to 4:15 to hear Jack Layton on Canada's role in Afghanistan)