- Murray Dobbin contrasts the B.C. NDP's recent election loss against the type of popular focus which helped Saskatchewan's CCF to earn a twenty-year stay in office in the face of far more hysterical opposition:
You can design a campaign that projects a positive vision of the future but two things about the NDP's approach doomed it to failure. First, you can't run a positive campaign in a month. It takes time to engage people in a vision of the future, even one they agree with. Secondly, the NDP tied one hand behind its back by failing to hold the Liberals to account for the horrible, destructive policies they implemented over twelve long years.- But if we're looking at comparing which types of politics deserve some measure of trust, we can rule out a few fairly easily. For example, Martin Regg Cohn writes about the false promise of privatized liquor sales, while Kathy Tomlinson reports on yet more examples of the temporary foreign worker program being used (with the Cons' approval) to replace qualified Canadians with easily-exploited temporary imports.
Tommy Douglas and the CCF (the precursor of the NDP) won power in 1944 in a province totally dominated by a Liberal, pro-business party machine for decades. It won a landslide victory in a media atmosphere of absolute hysteria (headline: "CCF will seize farms"), fearmongering and blatant lies. The CCF held power for twenty uninterrupted years. How? It started out as a movement and retained that character for many years afterward. It was deeply rooted in community. People felt ownership of it and its policies and out (of) that came government programs that met the expressed needs of the people. And that, in turn, brought enormous trust in government.
People's distrust of government now runs so deep that it will take years of trust-building to regain some democratic equilibrium. That means a totally different kind of politics and a totally different kind of political party. Progressive parties run by brain trusts, engaging in politics as a game, will ultimately lose. For them progressive policies are simply pieces on a chess board, not part of a larger vision. And the longer this style of politics goes on, the more institutionalized and inward looking such parties, including the NDP, become.
- In the latest in the Cons' Senate expense scandal, CTV reports that the paperwork for the hush payment from Nigel Wright to Mike Duffy was drawn up by special counsel in the Prime Minister's Office. Michael Harris writes that Stephen Harper's PMO is falling apart, while Lawrence Martin sees the Cons' abuses of power as reaching a critical mass. Sid Green and various Reform alumni all make the case for Senate abolition if the Cons can't be trusted to police their own. Andrew Coyne sets out the laws which the Cons had to know were violated. And while John Ivison may be the last person left to pretend accountability has anything to do with the Cons' value structure, he does nicely contrast the Cons' one-time promises against their actions once in office.
- Meanwhile, the Cons' commitment to accountability also includes blatant patronage and support for criminal bid-rigging. Try to act surprised.
- Finally, Paul Adams rightly notes that the great challenge for media participants in our time is how to manage the vast amount of available information - and that we should see that development as a massive improvement from the restricted supply which once existed. But we should be more than wary of attempts to push information back behind closed doors, whether through laws or through litigation.