Chapter Fourteen

Political Power

The morning after: where are we and where do we go from here?

It was an extraordinary election. Both Stephen Harper and Jack Layton got the results they were aiming for. Stephen Harper got his majority and Jack Layton replaced the Liberal Party not only as the Official Opposition but quite possibly as the only federal alternatives to the Harperites.   Canada now looks like so many other countries with one party on the Right and one on the Left. So why do I feel so bad?
 

Canadians Advocating Political Participation: CAPP renews itself

CAPP has re-invented itself as Canadians Advocating for Political Participation.  In interviews on CBC, CAPP spokespeople said they were continuing to organize now that Parliament was back to ensure that people across the country, whatever their politics,  continue to demand accountability from their politicians and get more engaged in the political process . I am hoping it will be the beginning of a democracy movement that will go much farther and start demanding political engagement by citizens in the political process. 

Obama and Harper: Two bookends of a broken democracy

On Saturday,  January 23  at 1 pm in more than 60 cities and towns, Canadians will hit the street to demand a real democracy in this country.  What started as a protest against the prorogation of Parliament is starting to look like a democracy movement.

Voters in both the United States and Canada are reacting to a broken system.  In the US by voting down the Democratic candidate for Senate in the most Democratic state of Massachusetts and in Canada by this unprecendented uprising.

Remembering The Waffle, For an Independent Socialist Canada...huh...

Yesterday I did something I rarely do. I participated in an academic seminar.   It was to mark the 40th anniversity of The Waffle, a radical youth movement inside the NDP.   Hardly anyone under 50 knows what The Waffle was, unless you have ever tried to organize an opposition in the NDP where it remains a scary ghost.   But it was a significant and almost unique formation of the 1960's in Canada.   Apparently scholarship on the 1960's is the hottest thing in academe these days.   Who knew?

Is the Party Over? What's the hope for the NDP?

Today I was on The Current  to debate the proposed name change of the NDP. The name is the least of their problems is my view.  David Michael Lamb, the guest host, asked me why I wasn't going the NDP convention.  I answered, "I've kind of given up on the NDP."  Frankly, it didn't even occur to me to go.  I have been involved in efforts to change the NDP since the 1980's in Ontario and with a few exceptions (getting them to support the Morgentaler clinic), it has been almost impossible to get them to change.  Their response to opposition from the Waffle , a powerful youth opposition reflecting the new politics on the 1960's until now has been to crush it.

European Elections warning call or more of the same?

After seeing the hysterical headline in today's Globe and Mail Angry Europe Embraces the Fringe, I figured that maybe we were starting to see a repeat of pre-World War II in Europe where a split and factional left allowed for the rise of the extreme right; although this time it would be the shift to the right of the social democrats and failure of the left to re-invent itself.  So I went to the UK Guardian, who were barely talking about the elections at all so ho hum were the results to them and then to Open Democracy, where I found a rational discussion of the election results and the failure of the European Parliament to attract citizens to vote at all.  With the exception of the election of a member of the Pirate Party of Sweden, ahoy, it seems that most people looking for alternatives didn't bother to vote at all.  If people who want progressive change see no point in elections and parties of the left fail to see the challenge to electoral democracy the way it is practiced in Europe and Canada, the dominance of the Right can continue and anyone who thinks that doesn't matter hasn't lived in Canada for the last couple of years.

A bad day for democracy

Yesterday was a sad day for democracy not only because of the disgraced politicians parading before committees of inquiry and courts but primarily because of the resounding defeat of the STV (a form of proportional representation) in a referendum and the victory for an unprecendented third term of Liberal Gordon Campbell.

BC-STV referendum critical for women and electoral reform across Canada

 On May 12, British Columbians will vote in a referendum on electoral reform that will have an enormous impact across Canada. They are raising money online to put the ad on TV

We can only go so far without addressing capitalism and the state

So much for the new era of social economy and social entrepreneurship. NGOs and foundations are downsizing left and right. A prominent social change event attended by social entrepreneurs and social innovators has had to be postponed because of the economic crisis.