Canada: NDP draws even with tories
June 10, 2005 12:47 AM   Subscribe

Jesusland is looking quite a bit more stable than the United States of Canada. O U.S. of C, we hardly knew ye.
posted by jfuller at 4:18 AM on June 10, 2005

Its interesting, I think. Would be nice if you added some links to explain to non-Canadians who the players are. Its not like we are familiar with 3-letter names for political parties across the Detroit River.
posted by Goofyy at 5:10 AM on June 10, 2005

Th funny thing about living in Canada is that somehow we know all of your 3-letter names. Not trying to snark, just pointing out how ever-present American political affairs are in the Canadian media.

As an example, I have no idea what Paul Martin's (or Jean Chretian for that matter, and he was Prime Minister for most of the time I was growing up) wife is named.
posted by hughbot at 5:19 AM on June 10, 2005

Don't worry, jfuller, things aren't as unstable as they might seem to an outsider...the end result of all these shenanigans has been the entrenchment of the Liberals, who have been running the shop for going on 15 years now. Plus ca change...

/ votes NDP
/ is happy about the Conservative collapse, no matter how lazy and/or corrupt the Liberals get
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:52 AM on June 10, 2005

Duh, Mrs Martin and Mrs Chretien, obviously. :) But you're right... American politics are far more prevalent in the media than our own homeland stuff. Maybe because, for the most part, our politics are boring as hell.

For those of you who don't know anything about Canadian politics, here's a quick rundown:

NDP - New Democratic Party. Lefty von leftersons, but more mainstream than the Green Party. Still a bunch of tree hugging hippies.
CPC - Conservative Party of Canada. Our right wing party, which was amalgamated from the CRAZY right wing nuts (the Alliance party) and the slightly-more-moderate right wing nuts. This is where most of the jesus freaks hang out. Still probably more "left wing" than a lot of the dems in the states though. :)
Liberals - our more moderate left wing party. Currently in power, but in the midst of a huge money scandal at the moment (which may or may not have involved our prime minister. I haven't seen concrete proof either way, but considering he was finance minister at the time, it seems hard to believe that he COULDN'T have known).

Unfortunately for the CPC, Stev(ph?)en Harper (leader of their party) is a complete dumbass. Seems like they (and the Ontario provincial Conservative party as well) have had a lot of trouble finding good leadership these days.

On preview: The Card Cheat, I agree with you on the happiness for the Conservative collapse. Harper is the last person I want running the country.
posted by antifuse at 6:00 AM on June 10, 2005

Goofyy --

For more than a decade, the Liberal Party of Canada has been in power. Most of that time, the Party was led by Jean Chretien. For the past frew years, Paul Martin has headed the party. Its most important power-base is in Ontario.

The Conservative Party of Canada ("CPC", although I've never seen that acronym used before!) is an amalgamation of the hard-right Canadian Alliance and the moderate Progressive Conservatives, and it is led by Stephen Harper. Its power-base is in the West (esp. Alberta), although it has made major inroads into British Columbia, Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is the country's most prominent federalist left-wing party (the separatist Bloc Quebecois are also left-of-centre). They are led by Jack Layton.

Some stuff that happened in the past few years, fudged for easy explanation:

Before 2004

- The Liberals are on top of the world, with a huge lead in the polls and very high popularity ratings - especially for the in-the-wings Prime Minister, Paul Martin. The Canadian right is struggling for relevance, and the two biggest right-wing parties team up to form CCRAP, later renamed to the CPC. It's difficult to conceive of a scenario where the Liberals won't be governing for at least another 5-10 years.


- Jean Chretien resigns and Paul Martin is all but crowned leader of the Liberal Party. Martin, the former Finance Minister, has been rooting for this job for a while, and he was instrumental in elbowing Chretien out. After winning the leadership, Martin does a purge of Chretien loyalists, including some particularly nasty shaftings of those who opposed him over the past couple of years.

- The Solicitor General uncovers a major scandal relating to Liberal funding of Quebec PR firms, ostensibly to help with "unity" projects, but likely related to Liberal campaigning and friendship. This is known as "Adscam".

- Paul Martin holds an election. In Adscam backlash, he wins a "minority" government, meaning the Liberals need the cooperation of Members of Parliament outside their party in order to pass laws.

- Various MPs are booted from their parties, most notably Carolyn Parish from the Liberals - after stomping on a George W Bush doll on a TV satire.


- The investigation into Adscam continues, spearheaded by the Gomery Inquiry. Rather a lot of evidence of Liberal corruption, although there's not particularly strong reason to believe Martin was involved. Paul Martin goes on TV and pleads with the Canadian public.

- Conservatives surge ahead of the Libs in the polls.

- The NDP agrees to back the Liberals on the upcoming Budget, in exchange for some spending/anti-tax-cut concessions. If the Budget had failed, an election would take place.

- Belinda Stronach, a prominent Conservative MP (and former leadership candidate), "crosses the floor" to the Liberals, earning a Cabinet position. She simultaneously breaks the heart of her boyfriend, Deputy Conservative Party Leader Peter McKay.

- The CMC teams with the separatist left-wing Bloc Quebecois (!?) to try to bring down the government. 11th hour decisions by two independent candidates make it a perfect 50/50 split in the House of Commons. The Speaker (a Liberal) breaks the tie and the Government remains intact. The drama of this week was further heightened by the severe ill health of various MPs. (They cannot vote by proxy.)

- A Conservative MP called Grewal comes forward, explaining that the Liberals tried to bribe him into switching sides. He was "wired" at the meetings. The tapes show a couple of Liberal representatives basically offering stuff (which is illegal), but making sure not to say so explicitly.

- An expert says the tapes have been tampered with.

- Grewal is caught trying to get someone to take a package for him on a plane from BC. (This is illegal.) People begin to ask what the hell is going on. Grewal takes a leave of absence.

- And now... The Conservatives are way down, neck-in-neck with the always-third-fiddle NDP.
posted by Marquis at 6:00 AM on June 10, 2005

Th funny thing about living in Canada is that somehow we know all of your 3-letter names. Not trying to snark, just pointing out how ever-present American political affairs are in the Canadian media.

Sure, and reasonably alert people in, say, Tennessee probably know who the governors of California and New York are while the reverse remains untrue, just by weight of population and media markets. Also not snarking, but it's hardly surprising.

Harper is the last person I want running the country.

Dude. Four words: Prime. Minister. Troy. Hurtubise.

Though it would be interesting to see what a billion-dollar bear suit looked like.

Phil Bredesen. I had to look too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 AM on June 10, 2005

Marquis, you are my Canadian hero. Thanks for the info.
posted by squared at 6:17 AM on June 10, 2005

For the record: Sheila and Aline.
posted by docgonzo at 6:18 AM on June 10, 2005


posted by chrid at 6:45 AM on June 10, 2005

Th funny thing about living in Canada is that somehow we know all of your 3-letter names. Not trying to snark, just pointing out how ever-present American political affairs are in the Canadian media.

Well, I don't know if you realize this but what happens up there affects us zero. Except for stoners deciding between BC and amsterdam.
posted by delmoi at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2005

what happens up there affects us zero

The United States and Canada have the world's largest bilateral trading relationship - from the U.S. Department of State.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2005

Dude. Four words: Prime. Minister. Troy. Hurtubise.

Haha! Thanks.

And Marquis, thanks for the excellent summation.
posted by dobbs at 9:05 AM on June 10, 2005

Well, I don't know if you realize this but what happens up there affects us zero.

Or, you just choose to remain ignorant and uninformed about anything other than the USA, which is pretty much why the rest of the world hates you.
posted by chococat at 9:43 AM on June 10, 2005

I watch the fall of Harper with gloating satisfaction. Even though in America he'd probably be considered pretty centrist, he's still a wingnut by Canadian standards, and his attempt to bring down the goverment-- by getting into bed with the separatists, of all things-- backfired badly when the NDP was able to demand, and get, a rewriting of the budget from the Liberals who were desperate for their support. (A rewriting, btw, that partially fulfilled a lefty wish list of sorts and which, incidentally, fixed the hole in the Co-op Housing policy on rent subsidy that was going to screw my housing coop when we renegotiated our mortgage this fall. Thank you, NDP, for keeping the rent for my lovely two bedroom apartment scaled to 30% of my gross income (i.e. a pittance)! I love you! Mwah!

At any rate, many people saw in Harper's machinations a naked grab for power, made not on principle but on greed, and it was not pretty. It was especially not pretty when Stronach crossed the floor, and members of the Conservative caucus decided to distinguish themselves by calling her a "whore" in the national media. The coverage in general of "Belinda's" defection (apparently she lost her last name when she joined the Liberal cabinet) was risible: her ex-boyfriend, who got left behind in the shuffle, retreated to the family farm and was photographed standing in a field looking heartbroken, and so she was painted as a heartless jezebel as well as a prostitute who had sold herself to Paul Martin. Interesting how when men cross the floor it's generally interpreted as an act of conscience, or as canny political maneuvering, but let one female MP follow suit-- and it was a predictable move, given that there was a long history of her differences with the Conservative Leadership over same-sex marriage and other social policies, as well as her own failed attempt at the party leadership-- and it's written as an impulsive kind of madcap evidence of shallow heartless ambition. [/vent]
posted by jokeefe at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2005

Various MPs are booted from their parties, most notably Carolyn Parish from the Liberals - after stomping on a George W Bush doll on a TV satire.

You make it sound like that's the reason she was kicked out of the party. It's not—she badmouthed Paul Martin.
posted by oaf at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2005

Hey, cool. I participated in that poll. So I might have thrown off the results by a little. Troy Hurtubise. Yeah, I'd vote for him. Paul Martin is okay I guess, but I question his preparedness to pull out his hunting knife and fight off a grizzly bear.

If the NDP are polling consistently around 20%, that's up by more than a little from their 15% of the vote in the previous election. I'd expect them to do better, with the other big parties having so many problems.

I was a little disappointed that the green party wasn't included in the poll... they did pull something like 4% of the vote in the last election, up from something much closer to zero in the past. Not enough to make any difference politically, but enough to be statistically meaningful when it comes to poll results.
posted by sfenders at 10:06 AM on June 10, 2005

Paul Martin might not fight off a grizzly bear, but he has the balls to try to push through legalization of gay marriage at a time when his party is hanging on to power by a seal sinew. He is a man who tries to do what he believes is right, and that's why he'll probably be ousted from power in the next election.
posted by mert at 10:25 AM on June 10, 2005

Well, I don't know if you realize this but what happens up there affects us zero.

I was going to say something about hubris here, but then I noted your implication that you learn about things that affect you. And that seemed funnier somehow.

In short, eat a dick sideways you smug ignoramus.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:14 AM on June 10, 2005

I'd say that the Liberals are centrist, not left-leaning. Indeed, the whole spectrum has been shifting rightward that right is the new centre...
posted by Elpoca at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2005

What's really weird about this thread is the number of people who know about Troy Hurtubise.

Well, I don't know if you realize this but what happens up there affects us zero.

Delmoi, I'm betting that an encounter with Grizzly Suit Troy would affect you greater than zero. So would an encounter with a massive trade dispute that deprived you of softwood and oil and hydroelectric power. And a whole slew of manufactured goods such as cars.

Canadians - and many other people around the world - are aware of the web of dependencies that keep our civilizations three meals away from chaos. At a time when the US is sucking at the imported oil teat (as well as the cheap-ass Chinese goods teat) like an infant with a thyroid disorder exhausting its stock of foreign wet nurses, it would behoove you to remember that.
posted by palinode at 11:59 AM on June 10, 2005

Centrist, I guess, but there are at least a couple of major issues that put them solidly left of most of the Western world's governments:
- gay marriage
- arts/broadcast funding
posted by Marquis at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2005

antifuse said Maybe because, for the most part, our politics are boring as hell.

Doesn't seem very boring (self mefi post)

In regards to gay marriage, it has little to do with the leadership of the Prime Minister, but rather that gay marriage is already legal in most Provinces and one Territory, so it's more of a technicality.

He is a man who tries to do what he believes is right .
That is such a joke. He is a fabulous politician, but there are many ways to measure a man

to sum up: he disagrees with same-sex marriage, he used all the power he could to achieve what his father couldn't, in one way by retaining power of his million dollar company canada steam ship lines, signed over to his sons), and he offered cabinet posts to those that would vote with him on the last budget vote to keep the government alive.
posted by futureproof at 12:27 PM on June 10, 2005

And yes, Carolyn Parrish was not kicked out of the Liberal caucus for stomping on a Bush doll on CBC television, but rather for stating, on the record, that Prime Minister Paul Martin could "go to hell."
posted by futureproof at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2005

Well, I don't know if you realize this but what happens up there affects us zero.

Actually it affects us both quite a lot. We just have the luxury of being snuggled up close to a relatively friendly neighbour. If either of us were less inclined to profit,prosperity,and peace (towards each other anyway) we would find ourselves in a much less relaxed society; and we would be spending our money on rations, guns and ammo rather than DVD's and Fancy schmancy dinners out.
posted by canucklehead at 3:11 PM on June 10, 2005

From the original article

the NDP now has to convince the public that it is actually capable of doing more than cheerleading for the Social Justice football team from the safety of the sidelines.

I couldn't agree more. I have always voted with the knee-dippers, but its true that the NDP has to rise up to this challenge. I am holding out for the next Parliament, in which I hope the combined NDP-Liberal seats add up to a reasonably comfortable majority. If they act well and wisely, people will be more inclined to vote them in again, or at least not feel compelled to vote Liberal strategically. (The first past the post system has hurt the NDP tremendously, I believe).

As for the CPC, they don't worry me. In order to stand a chance, they have to convince voters, especially in Ontario, that they aren't somehow the GOP-lite. If they do this by moving close to the center, there's nothing that distinguishes them from the Devil we already know.

Seriously, they blew the chance they had. The one thing they could claim that distinguished themselves from the Liberals was a lack of corruption. Now what do they have? Cultural conservatism? There's just not enough dumbass Bible thumpers for this to lead anywhere.

As for the "what happens to us there affects us zero"... that's not quite true. What happens up here affects you a great deal. And its not about the fact that we provide the biggest share of your imports (including all that oil and gas you're addicted to).

Its because people (obviously not all) in the States do look to Canada and think:

* well, same-sex marriage isn't the end of the world, the Canadians are ok with it.
* the war on drugs seems to be a bad idea, look, Canadians are experimenting with decriminalizing pot.
* hmm, how come we spend more money than anyone on healthcare, but get the worst return for our money. Hey maybe single payer public health care isn't a Commie plot, after all, the Canadians seem to be ok with it.
* how come people in the world want to shoot and bomb us, but not the Canadians?
* the second largest producer of CO2 per capita is signing on to Kyoto... maybe we ought to as well.

Of course, the reverse happens too. We bought into privatisation as the new religion mostly because we were aping you folks. But the point is that Americans are more aware and more interested in the Canadian example of an alternate society because we are closer, both physically and culturally. The Canadian model is a live option, because in truth, we're so similar. So whether or not you think that the Canadian model is a good thing, you should care because its far more compelling to more people than say, China or Sweden.
posted by bumpkin at 5:37 PM on June 10, 2005

I wish we'd quit learning to do dumbass things from the USA. Privatization is the biggie. God, how that's fucked up a lot of nice things we used to have. [sigh]
posted by five fresh fish at 7:00 PM on June 10, 2005

Who was it who said that the Grits run as the NDP and govern as the PC?

We know about the bear suit because we read the Annals of Improbably Research, which holds him as a minor hero.

I still miss the Rhino Party. We could use someone like them north of the Detroit River...
posted by QIbHom at 11:33 AM on June 11, 2005

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