Vive Le Canada

After the Election 2011: Building Our Movements on Shifting Ground
Date: Friday, May 13 2011
Topic:


"Building Our Movements" in the Wake of Canada's Elections: Austerity in Response to the Global


by Alan Sears and James Cairns


After the Election 2011: Building Our Movements on Shifting Ground


The federal election of 2011 drastically shifted the terrain of parliamentary politics in Canada. With 39.6% of the vote, Stephen Harper's Conservatives won 167 of 308 seats in Parliament, meaning that they will now rule with all the power that comes with a majority government.



"Building Our Movements" in the Wake of Canada's Elections: Austerity in Response to the Global


by Alan Sears and James Cairns


After the Election 2011: Building Our Movements on Shifting Ground


The federal election of 2011 drastically shifted the terrain of parliamentary politics in Canada. With 39.6% of the vote, Stephen Harper's Conservatives won 167 of 308 seats in Parliament, meaning that they will now rule with all the power that comes with a majority government. The New Democratic Party won 30.6% of the vote and 102 parliamentary seats - nearly 60 more than its previous best result – making the NDP the Official Opposition at the federal level for the first time. Prior to Monday the NDP held one seat in Quebec; it now holds 58 of Quebec's 75 seats.


As for the once-mighty Liberal Party, it had its worst ever outcome both in terms of seats (34) and popular vote (18.9%). The Bloc Québécois, which has been the dominant force in Quebec parliamentary politics since 1993, was reduced to four seats. Two party leaders resigned within hours of the election (the BQ's Gilles Duceppe and the Liberals' Michael Ignatieff), while two others – Harper and the NDP's Jack Layton – claimed historic victories.


The Harper majority is a kick in the gut for those of us seeking a better world. It has left many of us doubled over and gasping for breath. The Conservatives will now push rapidly to implement their economic and social agenda, including unprecedented attacks on public services and public sector workers, as well as “tough on crime” measures and an even harsher immigration regime. The previous minority Harper governments were somewhat constrained by the need to get votes from MPs of at least one of the opposition parties to pass legislation. Now they have enough seats to pass whatever measures they want.


The Harper victory spoiled any celebration of the NDP breakthrough. And we have a lot of mixed feelings about what the NDP victory actually means. On the one hand, it is the best showing ever for a social democratic party at the federal level, and some really interesting people will sit as NDP MPs, including some with activist backgrounds and connections. But the NDP leadership is likely to use this opportunity to try to position the party as the alternative government in waiting, competent and committed to the responsible administration of capitalism.


As we get over the initial shock to our systems of the Harper majority, we need to begin building for a broad-based, militant fightback, in part by making sense of this drastic change in the political ground. That means discussing the meaning of the NDP breakthrough and its implications for the radical left. At the same time, we need to understand why the Tories won and what they are likely to do with their new majority.


Austerity in Response to the Global Slump


The agenda of the Harper Conservatives is pretty clear at this point. The new government's priorities are largely economic, cutting taxes to corporations and the rich while controlling the deficit by reducing expenditures. As Harper said in his election-night victory speech, “Our plan is to create jobs and growth without raising your taxes... to eliminate the deficit while growing the transfers to the provinces for health care.”


Implicit in this message is a massive attack on public sector workers and public services, which is the only way to achieve these goals. Already, across Europe, the United States and in much of the Global South we have seen the deep slashing of public services and harsh attacks on the wages, working conditions and collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. Harper is going to bring that austerity agenda here and likely in a big hurry.



The Tories want to redirect feelings of insecurity, suggesting that it is the criminal, the terrorist or the refugee who is the real threat to our well-being rather than the banker, the employer or the Tory cabinet minister.


 


full article http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24735







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