Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What’s behind the New Democratic Party’s surprise win in Alberta?

A perspective from Jacobin:

Alberta’s Orange CrushWhat’s behind the New Democratic Party’s surprise win in Alberta?

The New Democratic Party’s (NDP) surprise landslide victory in last week’s provincial elections in Alberta sent a shockwave through Canadian politics. With over 40 percent of the vote and an outright majority in the provincial legislature, the NDP has broken the Conservative Party’s decades-long dominance of Alberta politics and lifted hopes that Stephen Harper, Canada’s right-wing prime minister, might be ousted in this fall’s federal elections.

The NDP’s victory in the heartland of Canadian conservatism is cause for celebration. However, there is little indication that the party’s success at the polls marks a fundamental shift to the left in provincial or federal politics. Alberta remains a deeply conservative province dominated by powerful oil and gas companies, and the NDP’s neoliberal record in other provinces raises questions about its willingness to follow through on its election platform’s progressive demands.

The NDP was formed in 1961, as a project by the Canadian Labour Congress and a political party called the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The CCF was the country’s premier social-democratic party, founded in 1932, in Alberta of all places. It championed many of the social welfare reforms associated with that movement, and although it never was elected federally, the CCF government of Saskatchewan, elected in 1944 under the leadership of Tommy Douglas, initiated North America’s first public Medicare program.
The CCF, unfortunately, engaged in red-baiting during the Cold War, and with the mainstream Liberal Party co-opting many of its traditional demands, it ran out of gas by the late 1950s. Also, the party was never successful in developing deep roots in the labor movement. A project to create a new party (partly to move it more to the political center at the time), with the active participation of the Canadian Labour Congress was begun and resulted in the creation of the New Democratic Party. Its first leader (1961–1971) was the celebrated Douglas.

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