Thursday 15 May 2014

"New" New Democrats: Ambition over Principles

You gotta wonder: WTF is up with the NDP?

There's this recent genius move from Niki Ashton, a motion for the House to "formally affirm" a woman's right to choose abortion.

Unlike the Woodworth gambit — which was ultimately defeated despite garnering the support of just over half the government caucus, including a half-dozen senior cabinet ministers — Ashton's motion could easily be interpreted as a criticism of current government policy, which would make even the most stridently pro-choice Conservative MP pause before giving a thumbs-up.

Such an outcome would almost certainly provide a major boost to the morale of the anti-abortion movement, which, despite taking centre stage briefly during the Woodworth and Warawa debates, has had little to no success in forcing the issue back onto the floor of the House of Commons.

That flagging political relevancy was apparent during last week's March for Life. According to police estimates, the annual Hill rally attracted just over 8,000 activists in 2014, which would put it at as little as half the RCMP estimate for the previous year, when Warawa's gender selection motion was still in play. Even the 23,000 claimed by march organizers was lower than their 2013 estimate of 25,000.

After formally affirming for years that abortion is a settled matter not open for debate, the NDP decides to take a swipe at the Liberals, kinda overlooking what ammo such a move serves up to fetus fetishists.

Well, we shouldn't be surprised. This isn't the first time the NDP has seen an opportunity to poke the Liberals by turning women's rights into a political football.

A couple of days later, the NDP brain-trust got a grip and decided to nix opening the abortion debate in favour of whinging about CBC funding cuts.

OK, then.

But here's Chantal Hébert's take (bold mine).

On the heels of Trudeau’s announcement that future Liberal candidates will have to toe the party’s pro-choice line on abortion, the NDP is seizing the House with a motion to force MPs to pronounce on abortion rights.

Since Trudeau is actually shoring up the pro-choice line in Parliament and not threatening to drive a tank through it, the only rationale for the NDP move is to sow embarrassment and division in the Liberal caucus.

A handful of its existing members are anything but pro-choice.

Not since Gilles Duceppe ended up having to take yes for an answer to his challenge to the House of Commons to recognize Quebec as a nation has an opposition party come up with as bad of a good idea.

The NDP has argued for years that the debate over abortion rights was closed, maintaining with admirable consistency that Parliament should not interfere in the reproductive choices of Canadian women.

On that basis, the party has mercilessly attacked the prime minister for not preventing his backbenchers from putting forward motions dealing directly or indirectly with abortion.

Its critics have repeatedly accused Stephen Harper of having the hidden agenda to restrict the reproductive choice of women.

But it is hard to square the notion that Conservative MPs should not be allowed to put their long-held convictions on abortion to the test in the House while New Democrats would be free to do so to score points on the issue.

The fate of the NDP motion — the text of which includes language pertaining to the government’s existing policy on maternal health in developing countries that could make it hard for pro-choice government MPs to support — is uncertain.

The vote might yet deliver anti-abortion advocates a rare victory on Harper’s watch in the House of Commons.

But whatever the result, it speaks volume about the current mindset of the NDP.

Dealing first with substance, the party’s eagerness to score easy points in an empty goal stands in sharp contrast with its gingerly-approach to more current social policy debates such as the one involving assisted suicide and euthanasia.

And here's her conclusion.
At this juncture, all is apparently fair in the NDP/Liberal war — including turning the issue of women’s reproductive choices into ammunition in the House of Commons.

This might be as good a time as any to remind both parties — but in particular the NDP — that if supremacy in the Caviar Left strongholds of downtown Toronto won elections, Harper would not be prime minister.

And here's where I bitch again about the fucking uselessness of the Fucking Useless Opposition®. They're arguing over the keys to Stornaway while the country goes up in flames.

Sowing embarrassment, scoring points, potting empty-netters. This is NOT why I -- and, I submit, millions of others -- voted NDP.

We voted for your principles, NOT your ambition.

And for this former NDP-voter, both federally and provincially, the party's rank and rancid ambition now outweighs any sentimental attachment I might have to principled social-justice warriors (ahem) like Dan Heap.

I'm done with the NDP.


Anonymous said...

So you'll be voting Liberal?

Purple library guy said...

What was the election of Thomas Mulcair as leader but a vote for ambition over principle? He was pretty low on my ballot. The man would be a fine cabinet minister but I've never liked him as leader of the NDP. I wouldn't even say he's unprincipled, exactly; it's just that his principles aren't really NDP ones, which is not that surprising in an ex-Liberal.

fern hill said...

@Anonymous: You a pollster?

fern hill said...

@PLG: Must confess, though I voted NDP, I didn't follow party doings.

Mulcair never impressed me other than as prosecutor in QP -- he's good at that, not that it matters. Certainly his principles (which are those then?) never impressed.

Anonymous said...


no, just curious. :p


Considering the circumstances at the time, I don't think the NDP really had any choice but to pick Mulcair as Leader if they wanted to hold onto their gains in Quebec. Anyone else would have been too big a risk. I don't see why ambition is a bad thing either. I'm not even 100% happy with the NDP, but if an election were held tomorrow, I'd vote for them over the other Federal Parties.

fern hill said...

I vote in Trinity Spadina, i.e. NoHopeLand for Cons. Might vote Green. Might vote Marxist. Might vote Lib. I like Adam Vaughan. He's been a good councillor.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. I have become completely disillusioned with NDP, both provincially and federally. I was so disappointed when Horwath turned down what was essentially an NDP budget that would have helped women immensely. She didn't even look at it! Now Tea Party Tim has a chance to get in. And, for what? So that she has the chance to gain a couple more seats? Thank you for summarizing some of the thoughts I've been having so succinctly. The NDP no longer have my support.

Anonymous said...

Maybe women need our own party that supports our own interests since it's clear that none of the parties really support us. The environmentalists created their own party. Maybe we need our own, too.

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