Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Partisan myopia

Okay, it's not as bad as we all feared it would be. Harper rode a wave of anti-Liberal sentiment to win the election, but he didn't win the majority (or even the significant minority) he had hoped for. The NDP gained 29 seats, and came close to holding the balance of power in Parliament. Chances are, this government won't last long. It's no more stable than the one we just turfed, and Harper won't be able to move without the support of at least one more party.

But it's still not good ... Harper is dangerous. He deliberately hid his fundamentalist candidates during the election, and downplayed his own socially conservative agenda. He stuck to the script, and tried to smile (as creepy as it was). But he won't be able to leash the whackos for long. And he might even give a few of them cabinet positions. Even if some of the attempts to curtail women's and LGBT rights might be facile, the point is, we will have to fight back on the issues that we thought we'd won. It will be hard to make any progress toward new change. And people from within our own communities will start advocating a form of self-censorship, urging us to stick to the "vanilla" issues that don't offend mainstream Canadians. We shouldn't stand for this.

Last night, I attended the victory party for my local NDP candidate. My feet were tired from pounding the icy pavement, knocking on doors to get out the vote. It was rewarding to be among like-minded people, and to celebrate a victory, for once. But more than one NDP party worker sidled up to me, and criticized the organization that I work for, for getting involved in the Think Twice initiative, and speaking too harshly of Stephen Harper. They had the mooney-eyed look that people get when they join cults, and it scared me. They were so focused on winning NDP seats, that they had completely lost sight of who the true enemy is.

I mean, I am no Liberal apologist. But to suggest that civil society should have kept quiet about Harper, just in case that meant that people might vote Liberal, is absolutely ludicrous. Just because the NDP wasn't likely to pick up votes from Conservative voters, doesn't mean that activists should have given him a free ride. You can't focus on "positive alternatives" (as one NDPer lectured me about) unless you explain what people should be turning away from. And as a lesbian woman, I know that my rights will be under threat during Harper's reign.

Sorry, I am not going to shut up about why he's bad for Canada. And I will do everything in my power to stand up for the things that matter: health care, housing, human rights. Now that the NDP has gained more of a foothold, I hope they will do the same. But allowing Harper to go unchallenged is not the way to do it.

1 comment:

Queer As Moi said...

Frankly I'd just love to see electoral reform hit the agenda... if we had some form of PR, the NDP could conceivably have almost twice as many seats.

And please, for all of us, don't ever shut up :) Sometimes all it takes is one strong voice to remind people that they have voices too.