Quebec is to be thanked for propelling the NDP forward

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Well that election can be added to the list of strange things about our country.

On Monday night the sovereigntists tried to save Canada, but Toronto abandoned it.

And Canada's socialist party had its best showing ever on the night Canada's most right-wing prime minister finally got his majority.

While Québec did its best to prevent Stephen Harper from getting his majority, the GTA gave the Conservatives all the extra seats it needed. Without the increase of 19 seats in the Greater Toronto Area, the Conservatives would have once again fallen short of a majority. Instead they won in 166 ridings, with 155 needed for a majority.

The NDP won 104, the Liberals 34, the Bloc three and the Greens one (as of late Monday)

The 60 per cent of Canadians who said no to Harper's Canada should all say thank you Québec. You tried to save us from the greedy clutches of the USA once again, just like you did in the American War of Independence and the War of 1812.

Stephen Harper convinced enough voters in our ridiculously unfair electoral system to buy into his vision of Canada as the junior partner of a rightwing, hyper-capitalist, imperialist, fundamentalist U.S. Empire, but Québec, where the NDP won 60 of 75 seats, did its best to block (rather than Bloc) him.

Thanks to Québec we have the largest contingent of social democratic MPs in Canadian history. Thanks to Québec we have hope once again that the Common Good may eventually triumph over the Greedy Individual.

We owe a special great gob of gratitude to the sovereigntists who abandoned the Bloc and voted NDP. They may have saved the progressive tradition in Canada.

Again, thank you.

But now that the thanks are out of the way, I do have to ask one question: What took you so long?

Hasn't it been obvious for years that the strategy of sending a large number of Bloc Québécois MPs to Ottawa had shock value, once or maybe twice, but little more? It didn't help Québec or even cause Parliament to grind to a halt, but it did allow Harperites and Ayn Randers to push an agenda that harms ordinary working people everywhere.

Hasn't it made a lot more sense for years to join together with like-minded English-speaking Canadians to promote the shared values of economic and social democracy? Surely people of good faith can unite to defend common interests. I mean as long as Québec is part of Canada and you send MPs to Ottawa you might as well get something good out of it, right?

At any rate, better late than never. Now it's time to look forward. With an NDP official opposition we're in for an interesting four years.

For those of us who believe in economic and social democracy Monday night's election offers a reason to hope.

We have witnessed a fundamental realignment of Canada politics. There's been a shift to the left, after years of drifting to the right.

Over 60 per cent of Canadians rejected Stephen Harper's visions of Canada. That's one of the core messages of Monday's election. Despite five year of holding the reins of power as Prime Minister of two minority governments Harper could only convince 39.7 per cent of voters to trust him.

The other core message is that a social democratic government is possible at the federal level.

The NDP is to the left of the Liberal Party on many social, environmental, economic and foreign policy issues. It lacks the Liberals' significant ties to corporate interests. All this offers hope to Canadians who believe in social and economic democracy.
But, there will be a big push by corporations, most of the media, the military-industrial-foreign-affairs complex and other cheerleaders for unfettered capitalism to demonize the NDP and push it closer to the "mainstream" consensus that only the rich and powerful can have a say in running the world. Most of the NDP provincial governments have gone through this process with often disappointing results (from the point of view of people who see a better way than capitalism).

Still, this federal election is an important step forward for working-class Canadians. The party closest to us has made significant gains. We may have to endure four years of an extreme right wing Conservative government. But at least there's now hope for a better government in the future.

Gary Engler is Vice-President of CEP Local 2000, B.C.'s Media Union and author (under his nom de guerre of Ernesto [Ernie] Raj Peshkov-Chow) of Great Multicultural North -- A Canadian Primer for Hosers, Immigrants and Socialists released by Fernwood Publishing.

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