NDP will still work with Liberals
Date: Sunday, January 15 2006
Canada’s social-democrats hope to sustain Liberals in power after January elections
By David Adelaide
14 January 2006
Like social democratic parties the world over, Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) has lurched far to the right during the past 15 years. In the campaign for the January 23 federal election, the NDP is doing everything in its power to prove it is a “responsible” party that can be trusted to uphold the interests of big business and defend the Canadian state. The New Democrats’ fondest hope is that in the coming parliament, as in the last, they will have the opportunity to help sustain a government formed by one of the big-business parties.
The NDP has waged previous campaigns with the pretension of winning enough seats to form the government. But in the present campaign the NDP has explicitly focused its efforts on gaining the balance of power in a minority parliament. From this position—or at least so the argument goes—the NDP would be able to pressure the parties of big business into enacting social spending increases and modest reforms.
According to the NDP, the record of the last parliament shows the efficacy of this strategy. From May through November 2005, the NDP was in a parliamentary alliance with the Liberal minority government of Paul Martin. In exchange for the temporary dropping of a corporate tax break and a meager increase in social spending, the NDP helped the Liberals, who during their 12 years in office have spearheaded the assault on the working class, to beat back an attempt by the right-wing Conservative Party of Canada and the pro-Québec independence Bloc Québécois (BQ) to force a new election.
Although the NDP would doubtless prefer to prop up another Liberal minority government, it can by no means be excluded that Canada’s social democrats would work with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, should the election result in a Conservative minority government. From the beginning of the campaign, NDP leader Jack Layton has consistently left open the question of collaboration with the Tories. “If we’re starting the election by saying we’re not going to work with other MPs who are elected, that would be a terrible attitude,” Layton told a Vancouver rally in early December.