Thursday, July 13, 2006

Liberals Need To Be More Left Than Right

Jason Cherniak commented sometime ago, regarding his statements about Omar Alghabra, that Muslim Canadians are unlikely to vote Conservative because of vitriolic statements by some Tories. While this generalization has its flaws, one part of it is basically true. Let me get to the flaw first.

All Italian-Canadians do not vote one way, neither will all Muslim Canadians, many of whom come from various cultures and backgrounds. Indeed many South Asians vote for Liberal simply because they have more role models in the Liberal caucus (such as Ruby Dhalla) but that does not stop a lot of them for also voting for Conservatives in the West. Harper's strategy of focusing on same sex marriage in the GTA has not borne fruit, however his actions on jobs, credential recognition and tax cuts have.

The Liberals have always played a delicate balancing act (on their position on the Middle East) well. This meant both Jewish voters and Muslim voters simultaneously voted for the Liberals. However, Paul Martin lost a lot of support within the Muslim community when he declared "Israel's values are Canadian values". Looking at recent actions by Israel where they seem to be killing civilians for fun it is clear Canada's values are very different. Paul Martin was probably pandering to some vote bank. However, the second part of Jason's statement is true. The lost votes did not go to the Conservatives but to the NDP.

It is for this reason that I believe the Liberal's next leader must be more left-leaning than right. We must emphasize our social programs, our environmental policies and our progressive society to steal back those NDP Liberals that we lost.

Another thing that struck me recently is how rabid the right wing has become. In previous eras, to be right leaning you wanted less government, lower taxes, less involvement in foreign affairs, more spending at home, increasing personal freedoms and protecting rights. Today, the right subscribes to strict interpretations of a religious code that they seek to impose on others, restrict personal liberties, increase spending (military, GST cut), do not care about deficit, treat environment as a dirty word and so on. The Toronto Sun has recently called even for standing together with Israel, as if that is something Canadians should do, when we have no stake in that country and should NOT be involved. The way to fight the Conservatives is NOT to be more right (look where it got the Democrats) but by re-stating progressive Liberal values.



Kyle Carruthers said...

Israel may have a tendency to overreact to attacks against it--those of us who have felt our security threatened certainly sympathize with that tendency while not condoning actually carrying it out.

But saying that Israel seems to like killing civilians for fun is absurdly over the top. Undoubtably there are individual soldiers who do such a thing--as their are palestinian militants who do the same. But it has never been the policy of the state of Israel to kill civilians "for fun".

Also, (playing devil's advocate here because I actually WOULD like to see the LPC govern from the centre left) your conclusion is based on the flawed premise that muslims will make or break an election, and that moving to the left wont lose an even greater number of votes to the right.

decoin said...

LPC must stress left wing policies (eg. gay marriage and gay rights) in order to gain Muslim support.

mezba said...


I dont think Muslims will make or break the election, but as a Muslim I want the LPC to be more left than right, besides movin to left will get back those NDP votes. Just hav to make sure we dont move left so much.

As for Israel's actions, I cannot condone it. They are killin civilians for no reason at all.

mezba said...


I dont think 'left' automatically equals support for gay marriage. by left I mean bread and butter issues. As I said in the post, SSM has not had too much traction amongst immigrants in GTA. To them, even if they feel strongly on the issue, its not something they would base their vote on. And as I mentioned in the prev comment, we must go back to left, just not so much left that it drives the center away, but gets those scared into NDP by Paul Martin back.

Kyle Carruthers said...

I dont really want to get into a Palestine-Israel debate, but I tend to think that one sided condemnations dont do any good. Lets not forget who broke the calm here.

Manitoba Liberal said...

I don't think it's really a left wing issue to support a democratic ally like Isreal when it's fanitical neighbours are once again threatning it's state. In fact in the 40's-70's Isreal was a left wing cause until the anti-semetic leftist fringe thought it better to support totalitarian muslim ideologies over Isreal.

The NDP can have all the anti-semetic voters it wants at the expense of the Liberals. I want my party to stand up for it's democratic allies.

mezba said...

Democratic? You do remember that Lebanon was the democracy example that was held up as a beacon to the rest of the middle east right? And surely you don't forget that Palestinians elected Hamas? Or do you only support select democracies?

As well, when did criticising Israel become anti-semitic? Are you implying the NDP is anti-semitic?

Hypocritic positions such as yours disgust me.

Anonymous said...

That's why Bob Rae left the NDP years ago - because of the NDP view of Isreal.

We shouldn't be picking sides - we should be negotiators. It's their fight, but we should try to help bring some sort of peace and order and you can't do that by picking sides.

Clear Grit said...

Or do you only support select democracies?

Yes. There is nothing inherent about democracy that makes it worth supporting, it is nothing more than a means to an end, and if the desired end is not achieved, we have no obligation to support a country simply because it is a democracy. I ask, what is the proper response to the election of a government whose official position on the state of Israel is that it ought not exist?

Demosthenes said...

Clear Grit: There is "nothing inherent about democracy that makes it worth supporting"?

So, should the United States just start dictating policy to the third world, or will they be graciously allowed to enjoy US-approved (singular) political parties to run the show?

And, heck, should Canada be any different? Should the US tell Canadians they aren't allowed to vote for the Liberals or NDP any more, as they might go against American interests? I'm sure Steve would like being El Presidente-for-life, but I imagine that everybody else might be a little peeved.

And, of course, if there's nothing inherently good about democracy, then there's no reason to have it in the United States, either. Everybody get behind The Dear Leader, he'll know what to do!

(It's funny how silly the arguments can get when the Israel/Arab conflict arises. Democracy's inherent worth does not end where Israel's interests begin.