Monday, April 24, 2006

CAW and NDP divorce final

Just this weekend the Canadian Auto Workers union passed a resolution ending all official support for the NDP at all levels of government. There's a post discussing this at Stageleft: Link.
CAW: NDP Buzz Off

Curiously, the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW), over 200,000 members strong, voted this weekend to drop all official support for the NDP at all levels. It appears as though the feud between the union’s boss, Buzz Hargrove, and NDP leadership has escalated. The last election featured several incidents of what many might describe as treachery on the part of Hargrove against the NDP campaign efforts. This leaves the CAW out of what is the largest labour coalition on the Canadian political landscape. The other large unions like CUPE will be there and will be driving NDP policy. The CAW will not have a seat at the table. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months if there is an election again anytime soon. Does the CAW honestly believe that the Liberal Party will give it the same kind of voice in policy as it had in the NDP? Are the NDP looking to align with the Green Party? There are plenty of questions that remain. Any thoughts? I find this move most perplexing.

Posted by Treehugger
And now both sides of this breakup are acting like they're finally free of the old ball and chain, and now they're ready to really shine. I suspect both sides are being a tadover-optimisticc. But still, the divorce was coming, since the NDP and the interests of Buzz Hargrove haven't been in line for a while. The CAW is following the path of American big labour, trying to guard the jobs they have now with no spirit of outreach or expansion or real spirit of labour rights. If my dream of the NDP renewing the spirit of labour were to come true, it probably wouldn't be helped by the CAW in its current form.

So what is the NDP left with? There are a few shining lights, a caucus full of guys as down-to-earth and straight-shooting as Yvon Godin would be a dream come true, but I said the same thing about Lloyd Axworthy being the kind of Liberal I wished all Liberals could emulate.

Over the last two elections the NDP has transformed from a partywhoses base was in the rural prairie provinces to an almost completely urban party, fighting with the Liberals for downtown Toronto and Vancouver seats. Now, Canada is about the most urbanized country in the OECD, but our House of Commons is still weighted to favour rural votes over big city ones. (my vote as an Islander is worth about 4 Torontonians' votes.)

And urban voters are somewhat more insulated from government than rural voters are. The municipal government affects them more directly in their daily lives, so they aren't asconcernedd with the actions of thefederall government when it comes to farm or fisheries or natural resources policies. It's harder to get an urban voter fired up about federal issues when they aren't affected by them nearly to the extent that a rural Westerner or Northerner or Maritimer is.

This reduces the contact points between the federal NDP and their new voters, who might be well-intentioned and as progressively-minded as they come, but try getting them to man a phone bank and you're going to get a lot of blank stares.

The Democratic party in the U.S. is finally starting to wake up to the potential of on-line communities to aid in real political organizing, as a way of getting the attention of younger, more sophisticated citizens who had no previous experience in the world of organized politics. Canadian small-l liberals should realize that the old, corrupt core of the Liberal party won't come back and save Canada after some time in the penalty box and realize that they have to rebuild an entire political movement based on ideas and social justice instead of on acquiring and keeping political power.

This political death and rebirth happened on the right with the rise of the Reform party, and if the liberal side of the political world doesn't go through a similar examination of what it means to be a liberal or progressive then they will continue to be seen asirrelevantt to the lives of people who have better things to do than politics.

Update: Bonus snark from nottawa:
NDP to CAW: "We only wanted you for your money"The NDP lost 260,000 members today.

And their reaction:
"NDP spokesman Ian Capstick voiced disappointment but said the impact will be much less than it would have been five years ago, because of legislation severely limiting political contributions by unions or corporations."
If "much less impact" means watching the silver spoon socialists in the neighbourhood down from mine chip their precious nails driving in their own lawn signs next time around then this could be entertainment for us all.
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