Most of the mainstream media, with the help of the Mulcair and Topp campaigns, constructed the leadership battle at the NDP convention as a battle between those who wanted to move to the centre to win government and those who wanted to win maintaining the “traditional” social democratic values of the NDP.
Almost everyone I’ve talked to since what seemed like the sudden announcement of Jack Layton’s death had the same experience that I did. It hit me harder than I expected. I’ve lost other comrades, many closer than Jack was to my politics and my practice but his death hit me harder. I’ve been thinking about why.
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?
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.
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.