An Opening for the Left - The 40th Canadian Federal election is not the 39th
CPS Election Analysis 2008 - Week 4
FOS Editorial Board

The 40th Canadian Federal election is not the 39th. The opportunity for a left-centre electoral alignment that arose during the last campaign and that could have defeated Harper on January 23, 2006 was lost. It was lost primarily due to the sectarian go-it-alone campaign policy of the NDP and its aim to become the official opposition in the 39th Parliament. The left, with a few exceptions went along with that mistaken policy.
The NDP in the grip of its mistaken anti-Liberal policy foolishly voted in Parliament with the Conservatives to defeat the Liberal 2009 withdrawal date of Canadian armed forces from the disastrous US-NATO war in Afghanistan. Had they done so Canada would be less than six months away from a pull-out instead of 2 ˝ years. That mistake paved the way for the Manley Report. The Manley Rae Ignatieff tag team maneuvered Dion into a deal with the Harper brain trust ensuring another 30 months of carnage and grief for Canadian and Afghan families and just possibly a major defeat of the Liberals.
After two and half years of experience with the Harper Government, illusions have evaporated and there is now across the board agreement on the non-sectarian left, the labour and peace movements that Harper must be defeated as the first necessary step to extricating Canada from the US-NATO war in Afghanistan and to protect the country from the effects of a disintegrating US economy. That marks a big step forward in political awareness. There is a discernible opening to the left in this election.
This time Harper cannot tap dance his way out of the mounting global crisis of capitalism and its looming affects on Canada. There is growing voter attention to the NDP as a viable option in the upcoming election. Taking its cue from the rising anger of workers displaced from manufacturing sector jobs, and under pressure of the labour movement, ironically including the Jobs Matter campaign of the Hargrove led CAW, Jack Layton is beginning to talk about some core class issues. That is good and it is attracting working class electoral support.
The media is reporting that NDP support in BC has doubled. The NDP is certainly in the game in Ontario and their fortunes are on the rise in the Maritimes partly due to Premier Danny Williams’ spirited ABC (Anybody But the Conservatives) feud with Harper. Even some Quebec ridings show improved NDP support. The NDP is in three way races in many swing ridings that will tell the tale. Under such circumstances voting Green only helps to elect Harper. The Green labour platform is not supportable by working class voters.
There is a problem. By uncritically adopting the environmentalist program, the NDP is out of the picture in Alberta and is estranged from workers in the energy sector. That is unfortunate and could have been avoided by closer attention to what organized labour in Alberta has been saying on the issue of tar sands development. That can still be corrected and it should be to neutralize the Harper demagogy that claims to speak for energy sector employment.
The National Post is reporting that the Harper Conservatives are switching their attacks from the Liberals to the NDP and the Greens. The National Post is wrong. The Harper Conservatives are re-focusing their attack from the Liberals to the NDP and its strengthening working class support. Harper doesn’t fear the Greens. He fears the rising anger of the labour movement and the possible swing of millions of Canadian voters away from his demagogy about “hard working Canadians”. Harper’s claim to be the best manager of the economy confronts the reality of a global capitalist crisis rocking the international banking system, rising prices and falling purchasing power of wage and salary earners. The neo-con market driven corporate policies that Harper espouses is exactly what brought on the crisis.
The 40th election is different because it unfolds in the midst of the quagmire of war and economic crisis. The volatility can only increase. Left progressives are called upon to avoid all doctrinaire approaches and remain politically nimble about what to do in a fast moving situation. That includes preparing the working class for any eventuality including an attempted theft of the election by Conservative demagogy and Liberal incompetence and Green hubris.

Layton’s talk of becoming prime minister should not be disparaged as wishful thinking for one main reason. The working people are considering a change. Labour wants in on decisions affecting the economy and the peace movement wants in on decisions affecting peace and all consistent democrats want the independence and sovereignty of our country restored. If Layton and the NDP continue to stay on message, they may just have a shot and that could open up a new path for progressive advance and a turn to the left. That is how fast things can change.