You can see why very few successful union leaders move into the diplomatic corps. They get rewarded for the opposite skill of expressing themselves strongly, even to the point of obnoxiousness. To be fair, representing workers' rights sometimes demands that. Sometimes it's just gratuitous.
Buzz Hargrove is a classic. He can't help himself. He just loves to deliver a kick in the ass.
Hot on his suspension from the NDP by the provincial council, Hargrove last week declared that right now is the time for the Liberals and the NDP to lay the groundwork for the next election by forging a coalition that will see each of them stop running candidates in the other's strongholds. But he says he doesn't think anyone will have the courage to support such a plan
I'll take the dare. I'm with him. Jeez, I feel nervous. Is this article going to get me suspended, too?
Some people say the New Democratic Party could die if it makes a deal with the Liberals. This is the politics of fear speaking. And fear is the enemy of life.
Let's be real. The NDP has had many parliamentary near-death experiences pursuing just the same rhetoric Jack Layton used in this election. His success at gaining seats this time was based on the credibility he built up actually using the power that minority government gave him to win real gains for people. The old we-are-the-perfect-ones politics comes with no future guarantees.
If fear of death prevents us from using our power to bring real change to life, how long will Canadians stay as faithful to Layton as they have been, rather than drifting off to the Liberals or the Greens?
Right now we are living with the "third option' that Layton promised would be good if only we would just vote for him and no one else, no matter what. Just this once. And things aren't looking good.
Or was the announcement about revisiting our relationship with missile defence just a bad dream I had?
The current situation is dismal in so many ways. And you can be sure the flush federal coffers we have going into the new regime will be seriously depleted by the time a change of guard takes place.
This is a tax-cutters' win-win. Given any amount of time, Harper's futile 1 per cent GST cut, childcare pittance-per-family and military and security overspending will make it certain that whatever government follows will have to be in cutback mode to stave off a deficit. Get ready for a repeat dose of the après Harris tax cut hangover. We even have the same finance minister, for Christ's sake.
And Harper could easily move on to a decade of power.
It need not have been like this. NDPers in at least 10 ridings in Ontario alone pulled enough votes from the Liberals to elect Tories. That would have changed everything.
If we had followed Hargrove's advice, we'd be watching a Liberal-NDP minority creating a fantastic national childcare network, augmenting student aid and investing in senior care. NDPers wouldn't be waiting for the great day in the future when their fearless leader takes power. We'd be ensuring that Kyoto targets actually get met instead of choking on the words "Prime Minister Stephen Harper." We would be in power right now. Where we belong. Because progressive-minded Canadians are the majority.
This is unorthodox, but it's the political unorthodoxy required in Canada's new context of political coalition. We need to get with the ethos of the times.
The electorate is no longer mated to the political loyalty of generations past. We are citizens not interest groups. And we know it isn't a simple us-against-them world. We are all part of the problem. Being part of the solution means recognizing that in politics, as in physics, reality exists in the context of relativity and interconnectedness. It is time for a more holistic perspective. This is the 21st century.
The same New Democrats who shun talking about a deal are quaking in their boots because the Libs might choose a lefty as their new leader. They fear that the Liberals will "steal" some of their program and maybe even implement it if given a chance. Clue number one: any time partisan politics takes you to a place where what's best for the progress of the country as a whole is not what's best for "the left," you are deeply on the wrong track.
Life is tricky and full of risk in every direction. I have faith in Layton's ability to articulate valid reasons for progressive people to continue to support the NDP, based on delivering real gains in a coalition Parliament.
But first we have to talk among ourselves - censorship and self-righteousness be damned.