This letter is intended for our progressive friends in Ontario.
Based in Montreal, the Libdemo Movement is a think-tank that seeks to increase civic engagement among youth, notably in the democratic process. After our study of the situation of Canadian politics on the federal level, we suggest nothing less than the unification of the New Democratic, Liberal, and Green parties. The resulting big party could easily defeat Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, and could tackle the enormous challenges of climate change and fair employment opportunities.
Seen from Quebec, it’s amazing to watch how our progressive compatriots succeed in dividing themselves, thus favourizing the election of Conservative governments. This scenario seems to be playing out the same way in Toronto, in Ontario, and in the whole of the country.
In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford, the laughing stock of North America, has a good chance at being re-elected this year if his progressive opponents split the vote between themselves. The division of the progressive vote could have more of an effect on the outcome than all of the past, present, and future blunders of the amusing mayor.
At the provincial level, what will happen in the June 12 elections? No one can really predict this right now. Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives could very well win a healthy majority thanks to the division of the progressive vote between Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats, and Mike Schreiner’s Greens.
At the federal level, which is the main focus of our organization, we have witnessed another division of the progressive vote since 2006, one which favourizes Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party—as detestably conservative as one can be! Justin Trudeau’s pro-choice and pro-marijuana Liberals, Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats against government cuts and in bed with powerful unions, and Elizabeth May’s Greens who want to save the planet, clearly intend to divide the progressive vote in October 2015, which could very well keep the Conservatives in power.
A single federalist party in Quebec
In the April 7 Quebec elections, however, we witnessed the power of unification. There was only one staunchly federalist party, the Liberal Party of Quebec led by Philippe Couillard, our new Premier, which won a healthy majority of 70 of 125 seats, even with only 41% of the popular vote. The “nationalist” vote of the Francophone majority being divided among more or less sovereignist parties allowed for the election of a solid government that will remain in place until October 2018!
In British Columbia, Liberal Premier Christy Clark was re-elected with a majority government in May 2013, thanks to the division of the environmental vote between the NDP and the Green Party.
Why, then, don’t progressives and ecologists unify in order to defeat the Conservatives and Big Oil? Good question. Based on our observations, party leaders and their entourages have a warped view of reality. They resemble evangelical religious groups, led by all-powerful preachers. Each party makes a claim to reality. Each party leader, respected and even worshipped by party members, coveted by the media, is enormously pleased with his or her status, even while confined in the opposition.
The human mind’s optimism bias
Party leaders are human beings, not computers. The human mind, over tens of thousands of years, is an optimistic one. This is why at the beginning of every hockey season, Maple Leafs or Senators fans believe they have a one in three chance of winning the Stanley Cup—not one chance in 30. People buy billions of dollars’ worth of lottery tickets. Teenagers fall in love “forever.” Consumers buy luxurious condos and new cars even though they can’t pay for them. Powerful countries believe that massive numbers of nuclear weapons guarantee their security. Much research exists on the human mind’s optimism bias, and examples of this are everywhere.
And so, political parties are honest but really naïve and optimistic. They truly believe that they can win public support by magic, or that their opponents will self-destruct.
The Libdemo Movement believes in the unification of progressive and environmental parties, instead of hypothetical electoral reforms. The multiplication of political parties leads to unstable parliaments, in which elected members continue to fight amongst themselves thinking only of the next election. In the absence of strong and stable government, money continues to make the world go around.
Instead, we’d like to see a new age of respected Prime Ministers who can obtain consensus and calmly explain their decisions—the opposite of the sad spectacle that we see in Ottawa.
“Green” parties against the environment
As ecologists, we see that different environmentally-concerned parties in Canada serve mainly to elect right-wing MPs by robbing the NDP of precious votes. Another impact of “green” parties is to deprive the contribution of environmental specialists from the main parties that are realistically viable enough to take power. What’s more, being themselves marginalized, these parties tend to marginalize the environmental cause even though it is a priority. We are distraught by the negative impact of Canada’s “green” parties.
Some food for thought for our progressive friends in Ontario …
Patrick Richard is the president of the Libdemo Movement.