Thursday, December 20, 2012

On dubious partners

I've mostly avoided commenting on the federal Libs' leadership race based on the need for the party's own membership (and supportership in this case) to decide on a future direction for itself. But with one of the candidates explicitly running on a platform of cross-party dealings, I'd think there's some room to analyze whether she has much prospect of reaching out to other parties.

Which brings us to this:
With one lonely exception, the top tier of contenders for the Liberal helm has veered sharply to the right, much to the private consternation of some of the stalwarts of the party's once-influential left wing.

"All I'm hearing is we're going down the Reagan/Thatcher slipstream," despairs one prominent veteran Liberal.

"I don't believe that the way you're going to offer an alternative (to the Harper Conservatives) is to be a pseudo-Tory."
...
Among the top tier contenders, so far only Vancouver MP Joyce Murray has staked out turf on the left. She's an ardent environmentalist, favours a carbon tax, opposes pipelines through B.C. and supports full legalization of marijuana. She also advocates co-operation with the NDP and Greens in the next election in ridings where a united progressive front could defeat the Conservatives.
So what's wrong with this picture? Well, I'll point out a couple of obvious concerns with Murray as a standard-bearer for left-leaning and pro-cooperation Lib supporters.

Murray's first political involvement came at the provincial level in British Columbia - where she was apparently perfectly comfortable teaming up with federal Conservatives in Gordon Campbell's "free enterprise coalition" for the purpose of defeating the NDP. Which means any claim that she's now committed to joining with the NDP to defeat Conservatives would represent a complete turnaround from her values when she first entered politics.

And before she was elected as an MP in Vancouver Quadra, Murray first took a run at New Westminster-Coquitlam - a riding where the Libs stood in third place even as they clung to power nationally, and where a slightly more successful attempt to pursue progressive votes on her part might well have allowed Con MP Paul Forseth to hold onto the seat against an ultimately successful challenge from the NDP's Dawn Black.

Moreover, during her stint in B.C.'s cabinet, Murray formed part of the Campbell government which  passed multiple unconstitutional laws to attack workers and slashed the public sector, while at the same time running up the provincial debt in order to hand tax goodies to high-income individuals and the corporate sector based on the false promise that economic benefits would result. So she doesn't have much basis to claim principled disagreement with the Harper Cons on the economic policy front. And her own record as the minister who was happy to eliminate "environment" from her own title doesn't exactly serve as a source of confidence either.

In summary, one could hardly design a candidate with less claim to have practiced what Murray is now preaching: her past political choices are utterly antithetical to the theme of cooperation to defeat the right, and her stint in provincial government makes for a better fit with the Tea Party than a progressive party. And Lib leadership voters wanting to see cross-party cooperation may want to look for an alternative candidate who won't be quite so toxic to potential progressive allies.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for this..those of us (in BC) who are cynical about her sudden leftwing apotheosis on the road to Ottawa are aware of these shifts in the wind..makes Bob Rae look Stalwart...not that I would ever support any Liberal that I can think of, but certainly not her...and the rest of the country needs to be educated on who she is (was, and possibly will be, depending on the way the wind blows...)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for this..those of us (in BC) who are cynical about her sudden leftwing apotheosis on the road to Ottawa are aware of these shifts in the wind..makes Bob Rae look Stalwart...not that I would ever support any Liberal that I can think of, but certainly not her...and the rest of the country needs to be educated on who she is (was, and possibly will be, depending on the way the wind blows...)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous7:45 AM

    Thanks for this I'm in NB and I thought that she was a reasonable candidate, didn't know about her track record with the Campbell's LINO's

    ReplyDelete