Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Posts Tagged ‘NDP

Canadians think Justin Trudeau represents the real change from Stephen Harper

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The Liberal Party of Canada is back in power after a 9-year absence during the reign of the Harper Government. For the first time in 11 years, the Liberals have a majority government.

Canadians had the longest campaign — 78 days — in modern political history. The country wanted change, but had to decide between Tom Mulcair of the NDP or the Liberals’ Justin Trudeau. Though Mulcair and the NDP had the early edge, perhaps they got a little cocky. Trudeau took awhile to find his voice, but once he did, the Liberals rose in the polls.

Stephen Harper wanted nothing to do with the English language broadcast consortium debate. Tom Mulcair took the Conservative bait and said he wouldn’t be there if Harper wasn’t showing up. Mulcair made that decision when the NDP was doing well. By the time of the scheduled debate (which wasn’t cancelled), the NDP was in 3rd place. A chance to debate with all the non-Conservatives would have been valuable.

There were more debates than usual: 4 instead of 2. But that 5th debate would have helped the NDP.

Here are links to our 2015 Canadian election coverage courtesy of our sister blog,

2015 Canadian election: Some final thoughts

Section 331 of the Canada Elections Act gets attention south of the border

Justin Trudeau begins new era as Canada’s newest prime minister

Our 2015 Canadian election coverage comprehensive guide

Canadian Canadian politics coverage


Dick Cheney’s Vancouver book tour stop: protests, calls for arrest for war crimes

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While George W. Bush sticks to Calgary, Dick Cheney went with Vancouver for his book tour. Those that order waterboarding and torture aren’t supposed to be allowed into Canada. Yet Cheney went through and had a $500-per-table book club event in the Winter Olympics city.

Protests were loud. A Canadian politician got into the headlines.

For more, check out our column from our sister blog,

American progressives can learn a lot from the legacy of Canada’s Jack Layton

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As regular readers know, I have a fondness for Canada and Canadian politics. But since Democracy Soup is devoted mostly to American politics, you might wonder what one has to do with another. Well, I’m going to tell you a story about a man named Jack, and what American progressives can learn from him.

Jack Layton was a fighter who stood up for those who needed the most help, someone who was respected by people whose political views were polar opposites. Layton convinced Quebecers in the last Canadian federal election to come over to the New Democratic Party (NDP), a difficult task since the NDP is a federalist party, and Quebecers have spent a generation relying mostly on the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

While Layton spoke the Quebecois French, he was a Toronto legend in politics. His wife, Olivia Chow, also serves as a MP from a different Toronto riding. And Layton was still able to get through to those who supported the NDP out west.

The United States has plenty of politicians who fight for the less fortunate, but they don’t get on TV much. And Layton certainly had difficulty getting his message through the clutter.

But Layton stayed positive and hopeful that things could be better. And in the last election, the voters reacted.

Sure Canada voted in a majority Conservative government, but the NDP became the opposition party for the first time ever. And Jack Layton was a large part of why that happened.

The election was May 2. Layton was recovering from a hip operation and prostate cancer as the election cycle started (about 5-6 weeks in Canada). In July, Layton was diagnosed with a new form of cancer. Last week, Layton passed away at the age of 61.

The obvious analogy is Moses, a leader who led his people to the Promised Land, but never made it himself. While that may seem sacrilege, the NDP had 13 members in Parliament when Jack Layton took over as leader in 2003, and now have 103 (of 308 seats in Parliament).

The loss is huge not just for a man, a fighter, but for the progressive movement in Canada, and on some level, the United States. A progressive was in the opposition chair for the first time in Canadian history. Having a progressive party such as the NDP in a high prestige would have rubbed off on U.S. politics at a time where progressives wonder where their voice is in the loud media landscape.

U.S. progressives were drowned out on health care reform, stimulus spending, and the jobs front, lacking that voice to speak up. True, Canadian media is more sympathetic to these issues than American media, and Canadians aren’t arguing health care reform or gay marriage. But Canadian media pay more attention when you are the opposition party instead of the third party.

The lesson American progressives need to take from the legacy of Jack Layton is to stand up for what you believe in, and you can do so in a positive fashion.

Progressives are demonized in both countries as being “out there,” but Layton was able to cut through to get his message out.

In covering the 2011 Canadian federal election, I was bemused as the NDP was gaining strength in Quebec that Jack Layton had been around since 2003, and yet was the new kid on the block. Layton didn’t change, the world around him changed.

Americans are more receptive to progressives’ message in these harsh economic times. People want solutions and progressives have them. What they have lacked is a strong voice to bring all of that to the table.

Over the last few years, I had often thought American progressives needed someone like Jack Layton in their world. Now Canadian progressives need someone like Jack Layton, but as we have seen, very few come along that are like Jack Layton.

We have often made fun of the teabaggers, but they speak with a voice, a simple clear message, even if that message was contradictory, borderline racist, and often incorrect. Jack Layton has proven that progressives can speak with a strong, upbeat, positive message.

Progressives are very good at being correct, but lousy on conveying that to those who don’t readily believe they have solutions. Layton went against the tide of his own party to broaden the message, but the results of the 2011 election prove Layton was right.

Now the NDP and Canadians have to build on Jack Layton’s legacy. Americans could learn a few lessons about that legacy.

Written by democracysoup

August 30, 2011 at 7:08 am

Stephen Harper wins majority government in Canada; Jack Layton takes NDP to official opposition status

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While the coverage goes very late, here are the highlights of the 2011 Canadian federal election, via

Stephen Harper became the first Conservative PM to win a majority since Brian Mulroney and only the 3nd conservative with a majority since 1930. Jack Layton became the first NDP leader to finish as high as second, and so the NDP will be the official opposition party. Michael Ignatieff became the first Liberal Party leader to finish as low as third ever. Gilles Duceppe, the longest current standing party leader, won’t be after the Bloc Quebecois fell to about 2 seats.

Kim Campbell was the last party leader to lose the riding as well; Campbell inherited the PM chair as the Progressive Conservatives went down to 2 seats in 1993. Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Ontario) and Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte-Marie in Quebec) lost their ridings as well.

Elizabeth May was a party leader who won her seat, the first elected MP from the Green Party, in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in British Columbia. And the Greens will have about as much vocal power as the Bloc Quebecois.

For more details, click on the rest of the story.

Previewing the 2011 Canadian federal election: Blue, Red, or Orange

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[For extensive coverage of the 2011 Canadian federal election, check out all the articles at]

UPDATE: C-SPAN 2 will carry the CBC feed starting at 10 pm Eastern on Monday. The results can’t be broadcast nationwide until 10 pm due to Canadian law. The coverage is scheduled to go for 4 hours. Set your DVR for all the fun.

Hopefully by now, you are aware of an upcoming federal election in Canada on Monday. Canadian voters go to the polls to select a MP in their riding, and then in turn, the party in power selects a prime minister.

Now there are five choices for prime minister, though two of them fall into the “not likely” category: Elizabeth May is the head of the Green Party, and while the party had just under a million votes in 2008, there are no current Green MPs. Gilles Duceppe is head of the Bloc Quebecois, a party that is separatist and only running MP candidates in Quebec.

Canadian prime ministers have either been red (Liberal) or blue (Conservative), but if polls are to be believed, orange (NDP) may be the color of 2011. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Jack Layton will be the next prime minister. However, Layton may have a lot of say in the next government, assuming the polls hold up. But as the Greens can attest, the race isn’t about votes, but ridings. If votes are split, other parties can capture the seat, even if it’s close. And MPs often don’t get 50% of the vote in a riding.

Then there are Stephen Harper (blue) and Michael Ignatieff (red). Harper has run the last two minority governments, stretching 5 years (the length of a standard majority government). And though Harper has come close to a majority, voters don’t seem to trust him or his party with that responsibility. While the Harper government doesn’t have the “super-scandal,” there are a lot of mini-scandals, including being the first government to be found in contempt of Parliament, which brought down this government and forced the election.

The Liberal Party is the opposition party (second most MPs in Parliament), yet is running third in the polls. And while the Liberals have dominated the prime minister’s office in the last 50 years, the party is lost. Not as lost as American Democratic politicians, but much more lost than the party has been.

Ignatieff is the 4th Liberal Party leader in the last five elections. And Stephane Dion, who ran as the party’s leader in 2008, was the first Liberal leader who ran in an election but stepped down without becoming prime minister since the 19th century. And Ignatieff has the baggage of spending much of his adult life in the United Kingdom and the United States. Plus, the Harper government has been running attack ads against Ignatieff long before the election started, a new precedent in Canadian politics.

Igantieff has proven to be a better candidate than Dion, and not the scary American monster that the attack ads tried to make him appear. In the English language debate, Ignatieff came across as fiery and passionate, while Harper ignored the rest of the group to robotically stare in the direction of the TV camera.

But Ignatieff’s ceiling for this election was prime minister in a minority government. He has ruled out an official coalition, talked into that by attacks from Harper. Then again, Harper has run an unofficial coalition for the last 5 years.

The safest prediction for Monday is that Canadians will give Harper yet another minority government, his third and Canada’s fourth in a row, dating back to 2004. But…

  • IF young people actually get out to vote, and the early voting numbers are significantly up over 2008.
  • IF the voting percentage gets back well above 60%.
  • IF more Quebec voters pick a federalist party instead of a separatist party.
  • IF the social media campaign — voter mobs, as they have been called — makes a vital impact.
  • IF Canadians who are unhappy that this is the 4th election in 7 years pick a government that will be around for awhile.

As for why Americans should care or follow what is going on: social media helped the 2008 U.S. campaign, but seemed pretty quiet in 2010. The young people, some of whom couldn’t vote in 2008 or 2010, will learn what worked and what didn’t in Canada from a social media perspective. Same continent, same primary language (French is Canada’s other official language; Spanish is the U.S. unofficial language).

The U.S. 2008 election had a higher turnout than Canada’s 2008 federal election, but that went against everything in the past. If history returns to form, the U.S. will want to know more about what makes Canada better, and if the downfall continues, that pattern will be worth studying.

If the NDP does come out of nowhere, the frustration in the American two-party system might be ripe to form a real third party.

The hope is that one of the C-SPAN channels will carry the CBC’s coverage of Election Night. C-SPAN carried the 2008 election coverage, and I know I watched the 2006 election coverage from somewhere; this might have been via C-SPAN as well. Check your local listings and/or stay close to for further updates.

Written by democracysoup

April 29, 2011 at 7:27 am

Canada will have a federal election coming up in May

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Sure there is unrest in the Middle East, cleanup in Japan, and rising oil prices everywhere. But let’s not forget that Canadians will spend their spring listening to politicians attack each other, in other words, a spring election.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been in charge for over 5 years, yet hasn’t had a majority government in that time. And there are three other parties that want to be in control, even if the only realistic person besides Harper is Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. And Ignatieff won’t do any better than a minority government himself.

We will have extensive coverage on our sister blog,, including this opening preview of the upcoming election.

Written by democracysoup

March 26, 2011 at 7:15 am