Saturday, December 09, 2006

Answering My Tyee Question - Vote NDP or Not?

Thanks to Idealistic Pragmatist, a thoughtful New Democratic Party activist, for taking the time to consider the question I posed in my Tyee column of a couple of days ago. She's crafted a well-reasoned and convincing argument in the form of advice to NDP-Liberal swing voters, which I'll take the liberty of summing up in her own words:

If they live in ridings where the NDP candidate can beat the Tory, they should vote NDP, and if they live in ridings where the Liberal candidate can beat the Tory, they should vote Liberal.

Some time ago, the Pragmatist presented the best defence I've read of the strange evolution of the NDP's position on Afghanistan and its tortured reasoning on the question. I disagree with her and the NDP's Afghanistan position (sorry, Pragmatist, but "Support Our Troops, Bring 'Em Home" is all it amounts to, no matter how it's dressed up). But I consider her an honourable adversary in that debate, which is to say she's not objectively pro-fascist, like so many in Canada's so-called "anti-war" crowd.

Taking the Pragmatist's cue, Michel Fortin ponders the implications of Stephane Dion's victory at the Liberal leadership convention and concludes: "Ce que j’aimerais voir au Canada, c’est une coalition gouvernementale ; une coalition où différents partis s’engagent à former le gouvernement ensemble en mettant en commun leur programmes respectifs et en gouvernant sur la base du compromis." Which is more or less an argument in favour of a real coalition, negotiated by compromise, rather than simply a Liberal minority backed by the NDP.

The best possible scenario, at least for the long term, would be for voters of all stripes to revive the push for proportional representation. Here's an essay I wrote for the Winnipeg Free Press in favour of some form of pro-rep, from four years ago. See also the Pragmatist's view (an excellent analysis) and Vues d'ici as well.


Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Thanks for the link, and the compliments. Since you seem to agree with me, though, might I be so bold as to suggest that in the future, you might want to make your arguments as a pitch for genuine strategic voting rather than as an oversimplifed "why would anybody want to vote NDP again"? Because confusing the issue like that certainly doesn't advance the agenda I think you want to support.

Oh, and just as an aside comment on the sentence "I disagree with her and the NDP's Afghanistan position": If you read my Afghanistan post carefully, you can see that the NDP's position and my position are far from identical. Do you disagree with both positions, then?

12:49 PM  
Blogger Devon Rowcliffe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Just to make sure I'm understood: my argument about genuine, riding-by-riding strategic voting wasn't directed at everyone, just at Liberal-NDP swing voters. I wouldn't vote strategically, either, and I certainly wasn't suggesting you should. The main reason I left the U.S. was to be a part of a political scene that had a whole spectrum of colourful choices.

But if the sole aim of Liberal-NDP swing voters is to oust Harper, the only reasonable thing they can do is look at who can win in their ridings and vote accordingly. And since--unlike you and me--these people aren't "proud supporters" of anyone in particular, they're not betraying their ideals by doing so, either.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Devon Rowcliffe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Both the NDP and the Greens have been valiant in fighting for proportional representation. It's all over both party platforms, so bringing that message to them would be preaching to the choir.

No, I become ever more convinced as time goes on that proportional representation won't come from any party or combination of parties--it'll come from the people. The best thing you can do right now to fight for PR is to join organizations like Fair Vote Canada and get to work bringing the message to the public.

1:57 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Thanks back IP, but actually it wasn't an "oversimplified" cover for a strategic-voting pitch. It was a serious question.

And you're right, the way I put it does suggest that your position and the NDP's position on Afghanistan are the same - sorry about that.

To be clear:

I disagree with the NDP position, and not just because it panders to "troops out" sentiment with necessarily being an unequivocal "troops out" position. And I disagree with you, too, to the extent that I am in no doubt that Canadian troops should be in Afghanistan, and our engagement there should indeed include Taliban-killing, if that's what the UN and the Afghan government continues to want from us.

Beyond that, I have few certainties, and I have a lot of respect for the way you have quite sensibly refused to hitch your cart to the kind unequivocal declarations we hear about this issue from both "sides."

Where we clearly agree, though, is that the NDP's position is "pessimistic," as you put it, and that it's silly to characterize the NDP's position as "hard left." My view happens to be that, whatever else we might make of it, there is absolutely nothing "left wing" about the NDP's position at all. But I also recognize that on foreign policy questions, there are many progressive New Democrats. Here's one I particularly like and trust:


7:16 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

That should have read:

"I disagree with the NDP position, and not just because it panders to "troops out" sentiment without necessarily being an unequivocal "troops out" position

7:20 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

"If they live in ridings where the NDP candidate can beat the Tory, they should vote NDP, and if they live in ridings where the Liberal candidate can beat the Tory, they should vote Liberal."

To this I would add, if you live in a riding where the Conservative candidate is by no stretch of the imagination a threat to win, vote your conscience.

I live in such a riding, and I'll probably vote Green.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

Terry said;which is to say she's not objectively pro-fascist, like so many in Canada's so-called "anti-war" crowd.
how can you say this,what percentage?if you know how do you know.
Could it be that most Canadians who support the peace movement are just against war,as a solution.History shows most wars just exacerbate things.
A little fact you might find of interest.Ever intervention since the end of WW 2,that was based on "fixing" all failed.This is not opinion.So I believe it is quit reasonable for many many people to be suspicious or skeptical of military intervention no matter the intention.
That said I would agree some of the orgs that are apart of the Anti-war movement can be over the top or are just using the movement.But the majority of participant's are just ordinary people expressing aversion to war,killing etc.
At last count over 65% of Cnds are against the war.Though the intentions were noble,things are changing for the "worse".
Dirk;gimpchronicles .com

11:13 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...


Re "Objectively pro-fascist" - look it up. And as for interventions based on "fixing" - you're talking through your hat. If it were true, every peacekeeping effort the UN has engaged in has "failed," the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge "failed," the UN intervention in East Timor "failed", the overthrow of Idi Amin "failed" and the intervention in Kosovo "failed."

Get a grip.

9:56 AM  
Blogger keefer said...

I just moved to Newton-North Delta. Help.
(At least I can be reasonably assured Eidsvik won't run again).

10:36 AM  
Blogger keefer said...

The plea for help, could of course be taken as a multi-faceted one, considering where I have moved, but I digress.
It's a change from my old abode in Vancouver East, where the outcome since I've been of voting age has never been in much doubt. And I've contributed to that result in the past four elections.

10:47 AM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Jeez, Keef. Just looked at the voting history there. Looks like you need a Ouija board.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

get a grip??
so lets see the Khmer Rouge were over thrown by the Vietnam after suffering years of border attacks.The US attacked Vietnam(in the UN) for daring to defend their country by putting an end to the KR(not by a military intervention by the "West"),to the joy of the Cambodian people.
East Timor was due to years(decades) of people protesting and informing ordinary people about the slaughter.A slaughter the US backed up,transfer more weapons than it had ever before,right at that moment when the Indonesian govt was at its most thuggish.
It was world pressure after years that finally forced Indonesia out,not a military intervention by the "West)
Ida Amin was forced from office after he initiated a war against Tanzanian,whose army allied with Ugandan rebels forced Amin to flee.Again not a military intervention by the "West"
I am not here to make personal attacks against you nor is my intention,nor do I have the inclination to do so.
My point is again every military intervention by the "West" to promote democracy or regime change has failed,this is fact not my opinion.I am not talking about UN forces going in to keep two side apart.In most such cases both parties agreed to allow the UN in.
I am not saying Canada did not go in to Afghanistan with "noble" intentions,or with good in mind.I am saying the intervention is not working,just like many in the past.I am saying when Cnd's see this history,it is understandable they would be suspicious or skeptical.I am saying most Cnd's support the peace movement because they are against war as a means to an end,not because they support the strange views or logic of some of the fringe groups associated with the peace grouping.
Again why are you taking my arguments to be a personal attack,they are not.In deed I agree with much of what you have wrote in your various books,on this I disagree.I believe you are over generalizing on the motives of Cnd's in the peace movement.This is not a defense of the peace movement.Though I support peace and see war as a failure,I think the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse and eventually like all foreign forces before,we will be forced out,after failing to even come close to our goals(so all those deaths would have been for what?).Its not a bad thing to want to help the suffering people of Afghanistan,I just don't believe the method being used will work.Then there is that other troubling thing,Pakistan our ally is apparently helping the Taliban,talk about a cluster fuck..
Anyway you obviously do not like me posting to your blog,or for some reason you get irritated(not my intention).So be it I will read once in a while but I won't respond( I will try and get a "grip"

10:29 PM  
Blogger tglavin said...

Dirk: What you wrote was, "Ever intervention since the end of WW 2,that was based on "fixing" all failed."

I gave you several instances that contradict this.

Now you say UN peacekeeping missions don't count, and interventions not undertaken by "the west" don't count, which leaves only a handful to choose from.

Do you really want to say intervention in the former Yugoslavia failed? Or Afghanistan? Do you really think non-intervention in Darfur has worked? How about Rwanda?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

I was talking about interventions by the "west",like the US,under the pretense of helping the people of said country.Perhaps I was not clear enough(obviously).Military interventions do not work of the type the US used in Iraq and now Afghanistan.France in Algeria,Vietnam.Dutch in Congo etc etc.Before that there was Vietnam and the numerous intervention of the US in central and South America.
I was not speaking of defensive war's,where one people is being attacked by another,and by another country helping the people(country) under attack the aggressor was chased out,or stopped.Those are defensive wars,just wars people have the right to defend themselves.I am talking about going into countries and trying to change the government or system by force(invasion).
Its not a matter if I think non-intervention has worked in Darfur,But I do believe going in with out the government agreeing or some kind of agreement,things will get more messed up and there will be more deaths(there are more than one side here not just the "evil"government of Sudan,whose side do we take the rebels who refuse peace kill people also.More war is not the answer.Perhaps we should send the UN into Iraq like Darfur hundreds of thousands have died by fighting,or have been driven from their homes.Save the Iraqis from the Americans and the Iraqi government..
I hope you understand the point I was trying to make.One has a right to defend ones self(most time one has little choice),other than that war for any other purpose or intent just does not work,the price in death and suffering is just to great.The innocent always pay the highest cost in deaths and suffering when war is seen as an option.The US throws its weight about at the drop of a hat,with little regard to all the death and suffering it has sowed.God knows they have had enough experience to know better.But then it is mostly others that get killed not Americans.
Democracy will never be introduced at the point of a gun,it must be raised up and build on by the people themselves.

4:11 AM  
Blogger kurichina said...

Stephen added:

To this I would add, if you live in a riding where the Conservative candidate is by no stretch of the imagination a threat to win, vote your conscience.

I'll also add this:

If you live in a riding where the Conservative candidate will only lose when hell reports temperatures below 0, vote your conscience.

My family lives in such a riding and I always tell them: it's a 1.75 plus a statement. Sometimes that's the best you can do.

8:40 AM  

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