It’s no secret that this has, for me, been one of the most difficult years of my adult life which, as almost any unbiased view of that life will show, is a claim that cannot be made hastily.
The reasons – intensely personal and family-related – resulted in my withdrawing nearly completely from what has been a fairly active political life, particularly in the riding of Toronto Centre where I even considered running for the federal NDP nomination. It has to be said that my hypothetical candidacy would probably not have been serious enough for any riding association partisans. Until El-Farouk Khaki put his name forward I saw myself as a sacrificial lamb willing to go to the political abattoir simply for the excitement of being a candidate.
My misgivings about running seriously were affirmed by a friendly advisor who thought my health would not hold up under the pressure. El-Farouk’s name recognition as a lawyer, which to me came mostly through the pages of the local gay press due to some of his high-profile immigration work, was very welcome as I was told he’d be seeking the nomination just as I confided that I would not be.
The family tragedy began just six days before the nomination meeting and my activity with the riding association has been almost nil ever since. Even when it might have been expected that I would return to my volunteer duties, I did not do so. My perspective on life has changed so much and my once-insatiable appetite for the gamesmanship of politics as usual – and Parliament in particular – has been severely curtailed.
Nevertheless, creating a little distance for myself has allowed some not insignificant shifts to occur in my political views – not the least of which is my perhaps naïve wish to always be part of a movement that puts principled goals ahead of partisan aspirations in the House of Commons. I recall being at the NDP’s last convention, in Quebec City in September of 2006, when we approved a resolution which basically called on the party to run to win government. Even entertaining that idea seems to have watered down the wine.
Frankly, before the climate change crisis became Job One – when my biggest concerns were for progressive social justice causes, for which I feel no worries with the Greens – I felt quite at home in the NDP. Yet, as the urgency of the crisis has continued to worsen, and people outside of the current House of Commons have mobilized, New Democrats in Parliament jealously guard their turf. (A link to this Susan Riley column was added December 20.)
I’m not sure, but has Jack Layton met yet with Elizabeth May – as she has long asked – to discuss strategies for the climate change issue?
Why not advocate to include her in the next election’s leaders’ debate – current Commons seats be damned? (That cop-out is completely transparent.)
Whether or not hardcore partisans of the elected parties can imagine it – and I’ve been with the New Democrats most of my thirty years of voting – I like the Greens’ self-styling as “fiscally responsible, socially progressive”. That’s not inconsistent with the evolution of the federal New Democrats and yet I’m feeling like I want to be part of something new.
I’ll be voting Green in Toronto Centre, for Chris Tindal, the party’s Democratic Reform Advocate, who offered these comments in welcoming me:
-The Greens tend to approach solutions more pragmatically than ideologically, while still staying true to six (green) “values” that help keep them honest.
-The Greens are possibly as close to a “non-partisan political party” as can exist, doing their best to give credit where it’s due while advancing the best combination of practical ideas.
Elizabeth also recently wrote a list of “onlys”, as in positions that we’ve taken that no other party has adopted.
(Though I note that you may not agree with ALL of these, hopefully you can support most of them. Also, note that the NDP have recently reversed their position on asbestos, and they now–as far as I understand–support a ban.)
My decision to align myself with The Green Party of Canada is one which has grown on me and I have gone from being a card-carrying New Democrat of those thirty-odd years to an electronic card-carrying member of the Greens. (With most Canadians not bothering to even join a party, I admit to being an all-or-nothing sort of guy.)
For now, though, as I continue to need a break from the intensity of riding level work, I expect (and I hope) I will take a very measured pace.
Merry Christmas in the meantime!