For decades the NDP was regarded as the ‘conscience of Parliament’, not afraid to challenge those in power on behalf of people and communities. It was also regarded as a throw-away vote, a party that would never form government and blamed by the Liberals for splitting the left. Now, under the leadership of Tom Mulcair, and in a three-way race for power, the party has shifted its position on the political spectrum, moving away from its traditional contribution to our democracy. This leaves a vacancy in progressive politics and only the Green Party, unconstrained by the limitations of power, is in the position to take on this valuable role in Parliament.
Evidence of the NDP’s shift away from progressive values can be seen in its unwillingness to take a clear stand against tankers and pipelines on our coast; its support of free trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and the party’s misalignment with the Leap Manifesto which calls for a bold new direction for Canada based on caring for each other and the planet. The Manifesto is signed by labour unions, Aboriginal leaders, and environmentalists, Elizabeth May, and myself and what’s more, its 15 calls to action can be all be found articulated in the Green Party platform.
While the NDP’s story of power and transition unfolds at the national level, a parallel story is playing out at the local level in my own riding of Vancouver East with the retirement of MP Libby Davies.
In 1995 while Libby Davies was campaigning to be Vancouver East’s MP for the first time, the NDP held just 9 seats in Parliament. Election after election, voters knew their vote for Libby wasn’t to send the NDP to a majority or even minority government, nowhere close. Libby was elected because she was a respected member of the community, a voice of compassion, intelligence, of progressive values. I voted for her and met with her as a concerned constituent. I was proud to have Libby as my MP.
As the NDP transitions into major party territory and our long-time progressive MP steps down, we have an opportunity to preserve our values and voice by calling on a new party and a new leader to stand up for the communities of Vancouver East; after all, we are not an NDP riding, we are a progressive riding.
A Conservative has never won here and is in no position to pull an upset now.
Of course removing Harper is one of Vancouver East’s top priorities in moving our country forward. To achieve this Green MPs will support the party in the best position to form government this October, whether it’s the NDP, strong in seat-rich Quebec, or the Liberals, strong in seat-rich Ontario, and Atlantic Canada. Cooperation will be key to ending the Harper era.
But with that job done, there is much work to do in holding the new government’s feet to the fire on election promises such as making sure we transition to proportional representation, creating a national housing strategy, taking meaningful action on climate change, and acting on decades of knowledge already in place to work with First Nations communities to address the injustices of the past, and opportunities of today.
In Vancouver East my team and I are working hard to earn your vote. We have momentum and an enormous opportunity to send the next Green MP to join Elizabeth May in Ottawa to strengthen the progressive, uncompromised Green voice, to help build the new conscience of government in Canada, and to safeguard East Vancouver’s progressive voice in Parliament.