New Democrats to Govern Nova Scotia?
Although I cannot follow as closely as in my home country, I do try to follow politics elsewhere, especially in other democracies, and especially in nations where at least part of the culture has British roots–because then I find it easier to grasp the political culture than otherwise. So, remembering that there will be regional elections to the NORTH in neighboring Canada, I glanced at some Canadian headlines, recently. Folks, HISTORY is about to be made.
Background: Although Canada is a parliamentary democracy, rather than a congressional/presidential one, it has been dominated by two parties for literally centuries: the Conservatives (in some Provinces, known as the Progressive Conservatives) are very similar to the Conservative Party of the U.K. (and, like them, are nicknamed the Tories) and pretty much like the Republican Party of the U.S.A. before its recent breakdown of all sanity–except that Canadian Tories don’t try to fight national health insurance, deny evolution, global warming, etc. The Liberal Party is, much like UK’s “New” Labour, like the U.S. Democratic Party–some of them stand for something and the others just like getting elected. Of the other parties, the Bloc Quebecois is a separatist party and so never has much sway except in Quebec. The Green Party gets no more than 3% of the vote.
But the New Democratic Party (started by liberal Baptist minister, Tommy Douglass, voted the “Greatest Canadian” by a contest sponsored by the CBC–who succeeded in getting universal healthcare in Canada) is kind of the social democratic party of Canada. Its strength has always been in the Western Provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, British Columbia). Leaving out Quebec, none of the original democratic provinces that went to make up Canada in the 1867 Confederation (Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Ontario) have ever had a government formed by a party other than the big 2. Until Now. On Tues., Nova Scotia is poised to have a new government formed by a New Democratic majority.
Wow! If they govern well, the NDP could gain in other Provinces and maybe soon form the federal government–either as a majority or in a minority coalition with the Liberals and the Greens. Canada does NOT like its current Conservative government and its Bush wannabe PM, Stephen Harper, but the Liberals haven’t generated much excitement either.
I’m excited. A more progressive Canada could push us here in the States. From the days of the Underground Railroad through the era of the Vietnam War, we have always needed Canada as our conscience. (This hasn’t always worked. Although Canada abolished slavery without a war by being part of the British empire in the 19th C., unacknowledged racism continues to plague it–especially regarding First Nations folk and Asians, but also with black Canadians. Also, Canada, like the U.S., rounded up all its Japanese citizens during WWII. But, our neighbors to the north have OFTEN been our conscience.) Canada’s full acceptance of same-sex marriage is inspiring the current struggle here, for instance. And Canada’s refusal to be bullied into aiding and abetting our illegal war in Iraq, kept those of us in the states hopeful we could, eventually change things. (When the UK and Australia went along, thankfully not New Zealand, it gave cover to Bush’s claim to be speaking for a kind of “Western consensus.” since many U.S. Americans could care less about the opinions of France or Germany. It was harder to ignore Canada, thank God.)
So, here’s to the future of Nova Scotia, the New Democratic Party, a progressive Canada–and MUCH influence with the U.S. Hooray!
P.S. I don’t expect the NDP to be perfect. I am also celebrating the breaking of the deadlock between two parties and look forward to the day when that happens here, too.
P.P. S. Meanwhile, the European Parliament is swinging to the Right and Labour seems about to lose power in the UK! Why is it that when Americans elect Republicans and swing to the Right, Britain and Europe swing to the Left, but vice versa after a Democratic win in the U.S.? Can’t we ever be in sync? I’m really worried about the Torries and the far-right British National Party on the rise as Labour and the Liberal Democrats self-destruct. This could be a return to Thatcherism with an ultra-nationalist, anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant, and anti-European twist! That’s scary as hell!
P.P.P.S.: On the good news front, a pro-Western coalition just defeated Hezbollah and won a clear majority in Lebanon’s elections. And Ahmadinejad may be in trouble in Iran, if two parties don’t split the moderate-to-liberal opposition. I think Ahmadinejad will fail to get 50% and force a run-off, which may coalesce the opposition around whichever of the moderates is stronger! Will this kind of moderation be met with a swing away from the far right in Israel? Will it be met by moderation and maturity in Hamas (because Mahmoud Abbas has no real power) so that some real progress can be made? I really hope so.
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