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Parts of the NDP’s past are worth emulating.
The NDP under Jagmeet Singh is facing possible disaster.
Fundraising is terrible.
Poll numbers are awful.
The Greens are nipping at their heels, or may have already surpassed them depending on what survey you look at.
A big part of the NDP’s current problems can be traced to Jagmeet Singh’s wholesale abandonment of some historical pillars of the party he leads.
Because, while the NDP certainly gets tons of things wrong, there are some things they get right.
And it just so happens that the NDP is abandoning those things at the very moment when it could have done them, and the country, the most good.
That leaves other parties to potentially profit at the polls, and believe it or not, there are three key things the Conservatives can learn from the historic version of the NDP.
Here they are:
1. Economic Nationalism
Long before much of the Western world started really noticing the negative aspects of globalization, the NDP was warning against allowing Canadian companies to be taken over by multinational corporations. The NDP sought to protect Canadian ownership, and even favoured tariffs to protect certain industries. Ironically, those are positions increasingly favoured by right-leaning parties in much of the Western world as leftist parties were co-opted by elite interests into abandoning their support for the national economic interest.
2. Focusing first and foremost on Canadian Citizens in need
While I disagree with him on many things, I must say that I’m a fan of NDP MP Charlie Angus (he’s probably not a fan of me but that’s okay, can’t win em’ all). Angus regularly draws attention to the brutal conditions in which many Canadians – including many Indigenous Canadians—are living, questioning why our leaders continue failing to act. Angus gets a fundamental thing right: A government must first and foremost be concerned about Canadians who need help, and that must take precedence over everything else. By contrast, the Liberals—particularly under Justin Trudeau – seem far more concerned with what’s happening outside of our country, giving away as much of our money as possible. And even the Conservatives have a habit of getting caught up in high-profile foreign policy issues, while problems here at home are neglected.
3. Standing up for working class people
Working class Canadians have been abandoned. While the NDP was once a champion of Canadian workers, Jagmeet Singh has left them behind, chasing instead the politically correct “woke vote.” Meanwhile, the Liberals, with legislation like Bill C-69 and C-48, are doing immense long-term damage to Canada’s energy industry—which hurts workers, including many unionized workers—severely. The Conservatives have been staunch supporters of the energy industry and energy industry workers, but have also been far too open to foreign takeovers of Canadian companies, and were even once pushing for free trade with China (which would have been devastating for Canadian workers). Wisely, the Conservatives now oppose a ‘free trade’ deal with China. As dealing with Communist China has shown, there are often very good reasons to stop a company based in a foreign country from taking over a company based in Canada. Protecting Canadian ownership and protecting good Canadian jobs matters.
Those three overarching ideas, Economic Nationalism, Focusing on Canadians in Need, and Standing up for Working Class People once formed the foundation of the NDP. The NDP once favoured industrial development, once favoured growing the energy industry, and once favoured ideas that would expand the prosperity of Canadian workers.
Those days are long-gone.
But that means there is an opening for the Conservatives to embrace those ideas and bring more working-class Canadians into the Conservative coalition.
That’s right, as strange as it may sound, the fact is that all of Canada could benefit if the Conservatives learned a few things from the NDP—things the NDP itself has seemingly forgotten.
There now exists a rare moment where the Conservatives can take up the mantle of champions of Canadian businesses and workers alike. If that opportunity is seized, Canada’s political spectrum could be transformed for the better.