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Canada Needs a Progressive Majority Government

A majority of Canadians want a left-leaning party in power, but our votes split between the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc, and the Green Party.

By Adrian Duyzer
Published September 11, 2008

Most Canadians would prefer it if Barack Obama won the US presidency.

Many of us are worried about John McCain's recent bounce in the polls and are sincerely hoping Obama rises to the challenge and defeats him.

In spite of our dislike for right-winger McCain, we may be about to elect our very own home-grown right-winger to the highest office in the country, for the second time in a row.

There's something wrong with this picture. Putting the US aside - American politics are endlessly frustrating - the problem here is simple: we can't seem to agree with each other.

A majority of Canadians want a left-leaning party in power, but our votes split between the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc, and the Green Party. We're in the same miserable state as conservatives were in when the Reform Party was splitting the right-wing vote.

Minority Government Weakness is Not Beneficial

A lot of people, from both sides of the political spectrum, think it's good to have minority governments, essentially because they can't get too much done. They believe that so long as no single party can do whatever it wants, Canada will do just fine.

This is a short-sighted and cynical view of the federal government's role.

It's true that most Canadians are getting by okay. But the success of nations is not measured by the day-to-day lives of their citizens. It is measured in decades, generations, and centuries.

Long-term prosperity requires long-term vision, and this is something minority governments - especially Harper's minority government - are not good at.

The world is not standing still. The progress of other nations toward greater greater prosperity and technological and industrial excellence is accelerating. Other nations are making enormous progress towards cleaner, greener and more equitable societies.

Meanwhile, Canada is lagging, seemingly content to ride the coattails of a Western-based energy boom the success of which directly threatens the health of the entire planet. We are not making the investments in our long-term future that we ought to be making.

There is no simply no national vision for the future of Canada at the federal level.

We Need a Majority Government

A minority Conservative government is not acceptable, and neither is a minority Liberal government.

Without proportional representation, a combined majority of small-l liberal MPs isn't good enough either, especially since none seem willing to pull the plug on the government when faced with passing bills they disagree with.

(Witness NDP leader Jack Layton's pathetic acquiescence under the policy of "making Parliament work". For whom? The Conservatives, apparently.)

What is needed is a majority government formed by the Liberals, or the NDP, or the Greens.

With me so far? If so, all that's left is for you and I to agree on which party to vote for. That's the hard part. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I'm strongly leaning towards voting for the only party that I think has a reasonable chance of beating the Conservatives: the Liberals.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 12, 2008 at 10:29:40

Strategic voting is at best an unfortunate artifact of our first-past-the-post electoral system.

If you are going to vote strategically, do so at the constituency level, not the national level. Find out which progressive party candidate has the best chance of winning your own riding and vote that way.

One more thing: the Liberals had majority governments for over a decade starting in 1993, and they almost completely abandoned the progressive campaign (remember Chretien's Red Book?) that got them elected in the first place.

The Liberals were far more progressive during Paul Martin's minority government, when the NDP forced him to drop tax cuts for corporations and the rich and increase infrastructure and social services funding instead.

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By Leaving the core (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2008 at 12:52:29

Adrian,

Wow, you sound like a real cheer-leader for the left. Give me a break. We've all seen what left leaning goverments have done to Hamilton and so many other cities in Canada... more social housing, more social assistance and more social programs do not make a city prosper. Have you not seen what is soon to open in our core? 2 new social housing projects ... great, that's exactly what we need to improve our downtown. I, like many of my friends have decided to move out of the core because living among folk who "just don't feel like workin'" has gotten to us.

It's time for a Conservative majority to clean up this country. Of course the left is scared ... they'll have to get off their butts to benefit from the Conservative platform.

Harper will get his majority ... Hard working Canadians are sick of their tax dollars going to buy beer and pizza for half of Hamilton.

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By Another Cheerleader (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2008 at 14:26:00

^ Um, maybe it's because 2/3 of Canadians support a left-leaning party. You know, that quaint thing called Democracy??

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2008 at 20:29:45

Ryan, isn't it interesting that as Chretien moved away from "progressive" policies he was still able to win three majorities?

In fact, Chretien cut social spending tremendously, and yet somehow he kept getting elected. How can one explain this phenomenon? Oh yes, now I know, it's all about the economy.

Good economy, good chances you will get reelected.

Unfortunately, a good economy comes at a price, and that is a government that is willing to keep a tight grip on the public purse strings.

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By no majority (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2008 at 13:08:45

Ever heard the adage "Power Corrupts...."?
Majority governments, given the current choices for leadership, is a grave mistake.

None of the parties have shown either true leadership for the people of canada or a true willingness to work for the people rather than for their party.

Giving any of them a majority is amistake because they have proven again and again the same cycles of greed corruption and flagrant disregard for the trust they have been given.

Conservatives - Extreme Right Wing Politics and corporate Elitism
Liberals - Right Wing Tendencies, poor cohesion and old school corruption.
NDP - Wanna-Be Party who waters down every progressive notion in order to appeal to all yet fix nothing.
Green - Unstable balance, unproven to prone to flipping from extreme left policies to extreme right eceonomics and an unclear history to show what they could accomplish.
Bloc - A provincial power wearing Federal colours

NONE really want to work to accomplish anything something that is needed wether there is a majority or minority. If anything the minority shows just how disfunctional the system is and until they get their act together, none of them deserve power.
Governing is about running the country for all the people, not petty power plays, back room deals, and elitism on the public dime.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2008 at 21:04:54

no majority, the fact is you don't need anything that government is offering. You're more than capable of finding all the resources you need to make a great life, so don't even worry about what they are doing.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted September 19, 2008 at 23:13:08

Alright. How bout I bust in your house with a sawed-off and take all your riches. Then see if you'll refuse what the government has to offer. (Just a thought experiment;)

Face it: only a propertyless society can be stateless (and vice versa).

Adrian: if "getting things done" (like the trains running on time?) is your main concern, why stop at a majority parliament? Why not a "dictatorship of the progressive?"

Centralization and authoritarianism are not progressive.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2008 at 23:29:21

LL, in a stateless (or at least small government) society, neighbors have a way of coming to each others aid in times of trouble. In fact, in a stateless society, local communities grow tighter because of their reliance on each other.

In a stateless society, citizens are not barred from protecting themselves with guns of their own.

In a stateless society, justice becomes more proactive about stopping problems before they begin. Therefore, people who think they can bully others, may have to face the wrath of the majority.

Not jails, but actual physical confrontations for people who want to hurt others. In this way, problem makers have two choices, act in accordance to the majority's will, or buy a lot of health insurance.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted September 20, 2008 at 14:02:38

I agree 100% - right down to opposing federal gun control. People can organize themselves collectively and directly democratically. For historical evidence (in modern times), check out the Paris Commune of 1871, the Russian Revolution of 1917 (before the Bolsheviks took power), the Spanish Revolution of 1936, and the Zapatistas today. But all of these examples of ground-up self-management have taken place when communities embraced the left-wing values of solidarity and mutual aid. If market fundamentalism prevails, you're looking at corporate security that's accountable to no one. You're looking at poor communities organizing gangs to "get theirs" rather than poor communities organizing neighbourhood assemblies and unions for social justice.

So, if communities can self-organize democratically to provide security, why can't they do so to organize production, distribution, urban planning, alternative energy, and whatever else? They can, of course. Which brings me back to the original topic of the thread. The left needs to organize from the bottom up.

In th meantime, progressives' biggest advantage would be weak federal and provincial governments, and strong and participatory local governments. The "green tech" advances that the author talks about have mostly occurred in countries with proportional representation and chronic minority parliaments. The elite knows how to control parliament, especially majority ones. They've done so for..., well, since there's been a thing called parliament. And that includes the Liberal Party, who are corporate stooges.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2008 at 19:54:33

LL, what monetary benefits do corporations receive for the taxes they pay to governments?

I would argue that corporations get very little, as most government spending is in the form of transfers to individuals and spending on health and education.

Therefore, the idea that corporations are screwing Canadians over, is incorrect. In fact, I think the opposite is true.

As to your idea about organizing things on a local level, I think that is a great idea. By taking charge of ones own community, rather than looking to a far away government, you build self reliance, which is always a good thing to have.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2008 at 16:26:56

Corporations get to use publicly funded roads to transport their goods.. believe me, a 2 tonne transport truck damages public roads a lot more than a commuter vehicle.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 25, 2008 at 10:11:11

If you're going to vote strategically, this is the way to do it:

http://www.voteforenvironment.ca/

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2008 at 23:58:31

Adam1, corporations paid approximately 46 billion in federal and provincial income tax in 2005 (best stat I could find). Add to that figure, GST, PST, gas, payroll and municipal taxes and your probably close to 60 - 70 billion in taxes paid.

Road spending is roughly 16 billion per annum. Hardly a great deal for the corporate sector.

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