Friday, October 17, 2008

Ujjal Dosanjh's disingenuous post-mortem

Ujjal Dosanjh, a political opportunist who jumped ship from the BC NDP when the federal Liberals offered him a better deal, is now complaining that the new Harper minority government is all Jack Layton's fault.

He split the left, Dosanjh says:

[The] NDP's irrelevant insofar as the federal scene is concerned except insofar as they have the ability by splitting the vote to effectively elect a Conservative government, which they've done twice...If you say you're applying for the job of prime minister and you gain less than one point nationally in the polls, what does that say? Everyone realizes that was simply a delusional Jack Layton.

One hardly knows where to begin with this ripe codswallop. Do we need to point out to the benighted Dosanjh that his Libs exceeded the returns of the NDP by a mere 8%
of the popular vote? That the NDP rose in the polls while his own party plummeted? That a system of proportional representation would have reflected those numbers by awarding 57 seats to the NDP and 81 to the Liberals, avoiding the problem of vote-splitting altogether?

It would have made far more sense, in fact, both morally and politically, for the confused Liberals and their near-defunct party to step aside for the NDP, which actually stands for something, has a coherent vision, and isn't just a weaker and softer version of the CPC. Why didn't Dosanjh tell his own leader, "Are you delusional? You said you were applying for the job of Prime Minister, and all you could get is 26% of the popular vote? We should have stepped aside for the NDP, and now Harper's back in."

Well, one can dream. But it is surely no less true that the Liberals are responsible for the success, qualified though it be, of the Harper regime. Not only have they insisted upon running against the NDP, but, once the dust settled in 2006, they acted more like Conservative backbenchers than like an independent party, ducking or voting with the government 43 times. Expect more of the same in this Parliament.

The NDP didn't play that game.

Dosanjh won against his Conservative opponent Wai Young by a slim 33 votes, triggering an automatic recount. 259 ballots were rejected in the first count. I must confess that I shall not be overly upset if Young ends up winning. Dosanjh sums up everything that is wrong with Liberal discourse and the Liberal party: dishonesty, vapidity, opportunism, smear tactics, no coherent vision, and no apparent political principles.

The Canadian electorate--at least the half that got out to vote and wasn't apathetic, turned off or* turned away at the polls--wants clarity and coherence in politics, real alternatives to choose from, representatives who are not simply interested in power and its perks. Dosanjh's flailing is a symptom of the fatal disease of the Liberal party itself, its self-assured Natural Governing Party smugness, its sense of entitlement, its inability to be even remotely self-critical. The sooner Canada is rid of this ailing behemoth, the better. Keep talking, Ujjal.

*I've added the bolded words so as not to give the impression that half of the electorate was refused a ballot, as one commenter took me to mean. It would be interesting to have a tabulation of those who were indeed turned away, though. The stories so far are anecdotal, but disturbing.

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