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2011 Election

Uniting the Left: Part II – Drawbacks and Alternatives

Continuing from yesterday…

The Workers, but Maybe Not Their Parties

Uniting the Left: Why We Should Avoid It

The problem is, I will never believe that uniting very different left-leaning political parties in Canada would ever make more sense than seriously considering electoral reform. This would eliminate the need to vote strategically to keep someone out, rather than install someone you desire, and the likelihood of a party cruising to power not on the strength of their own merits, but on the intense squabbling of their opposition. This is walking backwards into democracy, and it is to our detriment that we lag so far behind other industrial nations in rectifying this.

Alternatively, the largest drawback to a united left is the sudden lurch towards a two-party system that this would allow. I for one enjoy that we have political options in this country. As I have gotten older, and informed myself more, I have seen my political leanings shift further and further to the left. Consequently, since I turned 18, I have had the opportunity to vote Liberal, NDP, and Green, and I relish this opportunity to refine my voting as I become more self-aware, more educated, and more informed. A two-party system, similar in spirit to the Republican system in the United States, wouldn’t allow me this opportunity.

As space alien and future U.S. President Kang so famously told us on The Simpsons, “It’s a two party system! You have to vote for one of us!” Kang went on to win in a landslide over fellow space alien Kodos, and proceeded to enslave humanity. If you don’t understand this, you should. Google it.

We should always remember that our democratic process and dialogue in this country benefits from the inclusion of multiple and competing voices, and I think something is lost when parties on either side of the spectrum feel the need to unite to remain relevant and competitive.

And it is never a simple or easy process. You can still see the fissures in the Conservative Party of Canada from time to time when flashes of the old uber-right Reform Party break through the more moderate Progressive Conservative veneer, like last week when Saskatoon-Humboldt incumbent Brad Trost let lose at a Pro-Life meeting about their victory over Planned Parenthood. Witness how quickly the new Conservative guard from Eastern Canada distanced themselves from their further-right Western counterparts, lest we think that all is well within the CPC.

Ultimately, I have no problem with the Unite-The-Left discussion that inevitably arises from time to time. I think it beneficial for our political dialogue to evolve new ways to make electoral politics relevant and fresh. This discussion has brought up the possibilities of mandatory voting and electronic voting, both ideas worthy of further consideration. I just worry that any effort to unite our left-wing parties would overlook a much more effective and important option: the long-overdue consideration of electoral reform in this country.

There is an easier way to make Canadians feel as if their vote matters. Visit Fair Vote Canada to learn more about the glaring problems with our current form of democracy. But the beauty of democracy is we are free to choose another form.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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