A Call for a new Progressive Party of Canada
this week for Jack Layton,
reaching across party lines, and
embracing his positive and constructive
and non-confrontational approach to politics,
has inspired me to again call for merging the mainstream
centre-left Canadian political parties into a single party.
In the May
2011 Canadian election,
received a total
of 53.5% of all votes cast -- enough to easily win the election
if they were united as a single party.
Instead, they split those votes,
allowing the Conservatives to win a majority of seats despite
receiving less than 40% of the votes.
analysis indicates that there
wouldn't be a Conservative majority if
just 3% of voters had switched from the NDP to the Liberals.)
Furthermore, I do believe there is a clear set of principles around
which those parties could coalesce:
I therefore call for the Liberals,
-- together with
Red Tories and other
progressive-minded Canadians -- to join together and
merge into a single Progressive Party of Canada, founded upon
the above principles. I believe that such a party would not only win
the support of a clear majority of Canadians, but
also embody what is best in
Canadian politics. Imagine combining together:
- Protection of workers' rights, including minimum wage, safe
working conditions, parental leave, etc.
- Strong environmental policies, including support for green
- Sound fiscal management, including balanced budgets.
- Support for bilingualism, multiculturalism, and minority rights,
including women's rights, Aboriginal rights, and gay rights.
- Strong backing of public health care.
- Significant government funding for such key items
as cultural events, welfare, education, and infrastructure.
- Support and encouragement of private businesses and the free
enterprise system, balanced by regulation and taxation to ensure
fairness and positive societal impact.
- Belief that religion is a private matter and personal choice
which should be kept separate from government operations and should
not directly influence public policy.
- A justice system that is fair and efficient, with punishment that
fits the crime but does not exceed it.
- Foreign policy based on principles of democracy, human rights,
and the search for peace, together with strong support for Canadian
- Patriotism and pride in a strong and united Canada (party members
could have past affiliations with sovereignty movements,
but no current or intended affiliations or support).
Imagine if instead of NDPers attacking Liberals as sell-outs, and
Liberals dismissing the NDP as unworthy, and Greens condemning all the
established political parties, and Red Tories having no real political
home, we instead all worked together to create a strong progressive
Canada whose values reflect our own.
- the health care passion of Tommy Douglas,
- the environmentalism of Elizabeth May
and Stephane Dion,
- the financial prudence of Paul Martin
and Roy Romanow,
- the principled humanity of
- the activism and eloquence of Stephen Lewis,
- the patriotism of Jean Chretien,
- the quiet determination of Elijah Harper,
- the feistiness of Sheila Copps,
- the moderation and civility of Ed Broadbent,
- the peace initiatives of Lester Pearson
and Lloyd Axworthy,
- the multicultural insights of Olivia Chow,
- the intelligence and persuasiveness of Bob Rae,
- and the positivity and creativity and persistence of Jack Layton.
And best of all, I think Jack would have approved.
The time to act is now. Recent NDP success and Liberal
decline leaves us with two approximately-equally-powerful parties, and
no one clear alternative to continued
Conservative rule. The current leadership vacuum in both parties
provides limited prospects for quick renewal. And the passion of new
Green activists (including many of my friends) is admirable but only
serves to further split the centre-left vote.
Meanwhile, certain recent events also
point to the possibility of a merger, including:
I know there are those who say that the personalities and political
cultures of the various parties are too different for them to
come together. But surely our country's future is more important
than personal rivalries. Furthermore, to accommodate different
perspectives, the new party could certainly have various committees
and caucuses and subgroups which focus on different sorts of agendas
(environment, labour, culture, finance, gender, etc.), and these
different groups might sometimes come into conflict with each other --
but if they are all within the same party, then at least they won't
be taking votes away from each other.
So What Is the First Step?
A combined party cannot come about unless all three parties agree to
disband and merge. And that will require lots of
discussions between key party activists (as apparently occurred
for the 2008 coalition agreement too). All that the rest of us can do is
encourage the party activists to reach a deal.
In that spirit, I hereby declare that if and when the Liberals and
NDP and Greens are merged into a combined progressive party as above,
then I will immediately (a) join the party, (b) volunteer to help the
party, (c) vote for the party, and (d) donate as much money as I can
(which in my case will be the maximum allowable $1,100) to the party
in each of its first five years.
Will you join me in this declaration? If yes, then send me an e-mail (perhaps
including your party affiliation, if any). If I get enough responses
then I will announce them in a larger way. And note that making
such a declaration does not oblige you to cease your partisan
political activities at this time; it only obliges you to agree to
refocus them later if and when such a merger occurs. (As for me,
for now I will continue to mostly support the NDP, while still hoping
for a merger instead.)
Any comments about this page are most welcome.
And feel free to link to it or tell others about it!
-- Jeffrey S. Rosenthal
P.S. By the way, there actually was a
Party of Canada in the 1920s and 1930s; let's start a new one now.
I was interviewed about this proposal on the
Traveled (Thunder Bay) radio episode of March 29, 2012
(see podcast, beginning at the 25:00 mark).
So, the word is slowly getting out!