Support for capitalist parties in Canada

Continuing on with the discussion I started here on NDP MP Pat Martin’s proposal to ‘unite the left’, I felt it would be useful to take a look at some long-term trends to put everything into perspective.

This graph illustrates the support for the hyper-capitalist parties in Canada at each general election since 1968.

capitalist-support-in-canada.JPG (for the graph, click to enlarge), 

 (For the table of party support, click here)

This demonstrates that what we’ve been seeing in the past couple of elections here is actually a part of a long-term trend since 1968 of declining support for what I have termed the ‘hyper-capitalist’ parties (which I have taken to mean the Liberals, the Conservatives, PCs, Alliance, Reform Party, Social Credit, Ralliement créditiste, Confederation of Regions, and a smattering of other extremely small third parties).  Now that doesn’t mean that the other parties are anti-capitalist as clearly, neither the Bloc or the NDP (who make up the vast majority of the ‘other’ category) are anti-capitalist.  However, what they are is less capitalistic and certainly less in favour of neo-liberalism.

Not only would a coalition between the NDP and the Liberals be akin to an abusive relationship (as all Liberal NDP coalitions are), but such a marriage, given the downward trend in the past 40 years of the hyper-capitalist parties, would seem to be a little bit like fighting to get back onto the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

In short, if the NDP were really looking for a coalition partner, the Greens would be a much more logical choice than the Liberals.

19 Responses to “Support for capitalist parties in Canada”

  1. 1 janfromthebruce 14 March, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I want to know why the Greens? The Greens say they are fiscally consrvative and socially progresive, which means they would be liberal or progressive conservative. That’s why there former leader had been a former pres of the progressive conservatives and May use to work for Mulroney. I know the Green parties in Europe can be a lot more progressives, but our Canadian seemed to by highjacked by the right. Also, the Ontario Greens are a major example of that. For example, they are not suportive of public education per se, but would like to fund alternative schools and home schooling under the public banner – you know fund lifestyle choices. Gee that is elitists. They are also anti union, and May has been quoted as blaming unions for lack of action on climate change and so on. It’s true not all Greens are the same, but be careful who you want to get in bed with.
    Those are just my thoughts.

  2. 2 paulitics 14 March, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Oh I agree there are neo-liberal and right-wing factions in the Greens. I was merely saying that even their right-wing sections are probably not as bad as the radically right-wing Liberal Party. After all there is a significant heritage of progressivism and equality and activism in the Greens (and even the Canadian Greens) historically. It was really only under Harris that they abandoned that rich and proud history.

    It seems to me anyway that there’s far more in common between the NDP and the Greens than the NDP and the Liberals EVEN considering, for instance, May’s musings about abortion AND the Green’s various reactionary factions.

    That said, as a Marxist, I probably wouldn’t support such a party either way (unless forced to due to a lack of a truly progressive candidate in my riding). But it would be good to at least see a cooperation of the centre-left parties.

  3. 3 Larry Gambone 14 March, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Think you are correct Paul. Furthermore a lot of people to the left of the NDP support the Greens.

  4. 4 JimBobby 15 March, 2007 at 8:00 am

    Whooee! JanGal, yer sayin’ – ” That’s why there former leader had been a former pres of the progressive conservatives and May use to work for Mulroney.”

    I knew Jim Harris was a PC when he was young. He left the PC’s 22 years ago when he was 24 years old. He was a PC fer maybe 6 years. He’s been a Green since 1985. 22 years. If, as you sed, he was “pres” of the PC’s, he would have been the youngest pres of any political party I know of. He was a PC and he does believe in capitalism. I can find no evidence to backup yer claim that he was “pres” of the PC’s.

    You mentiuon that Lizzie May worked for Mulroney. That’s true enough. She did work as a lawyer advising Mulroney’s Environment Minister. It was her first job out of law school. She resigned in protest 20 years ago over the Mulroney government’s actions wrt a dam project.

    I realize it’s a sacrilege to criticize organized labour but unions are at least partly to blame for lack of action on climate change. The enormous power of the CAW in Ontario has kept it’s workers on the assembly lines turning out Lincoln Navigators and spewing pollution into the air. NDP provincial regimes in Sask and BC are on record with some of the worst environmental actions in recent years and the reason they took those anti-environmental actions was to pander to their union worker base.

    Powerful sectors of society bear responsibility for the environmental mess we find ourselves in. Bizness, industry, government and organized labour. The unions have worked hard for their members. That’s their job. They have done so often at the expense of good gren management. The environment is not the unions’ prime concern and it has always taken a backseat to job, jobs, jobs.

    Individuals also are to blame and nobody needs to look very far to find an individual who refuses to take personal responsibility. Same with unions. Same with politicians. Same with the bankers an’ big biz boys. Same with loyal party flagbearers.

    The sooner the NDP stands up to the unions and puts the welfare and health of all Canajuns over the financial security of Nanticoke’s IBEW and Oshawa’s CAW, the sooner they’ll start gettin’ the support of voters again. To a lot of environmentally concerned Canajuns, the Dips look like a 20th century phenomenon gaspin’ fer breath in a polluted 21st century atmosphere.

    I won’t yammer here anymore. I could go on an’ on but I’ll do that over t’ my own boog.

    Thankee fer the soapbox an’ cahnce t’ join yer boogin’ gabfest, PaulFeller. I visit yer boog from time t’ time but I ain’t sure if I commented before.


  5. 5 paulitics 15 March, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    JimBobby – I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote “Powerful sectors of society bear responsibility for the environmental mess we find ourselves in.”

    That said I think that this doesn’t jive entirely with your statement that “The enormous power of the CAW in Ontario has kept it’s workers on the assembly lines turning out Lincoln Navigators and spewing pollution into the air.”

    First of all, I think it’s laughable to characterize the union situation in Canada as either “enormous” or ‘powerful’. Unions have some muscle, but they do not even approach what you term the “powerful sectors of society”.

    Second of all, CAPITALISM bears responsibility for selling and producing horrendously wasteful gas guzzlers and SUVs and the government (especially the US government, but to a lesser extent the Canadian government as well) bears responsibility for providing tax incentives, favourable juridical structures and corporate welfare to said corporations for producing said vehicles. Unions certainly factor into the equation and have some responsibility on their shoulders there’s no doubt about that, but if we look at the big picture, they’re nowhere even approaching the most culpable.

    Unions are collective bargaining tools. Since they do not own the means of production, all they can do is demand that the capitalists purchase their labour power at above starvation rates and treat them in a humane fashion. Now, trust me, I’d be the first to jump up and down and cheer if unions were as powerful as you make them out to be, but wishin’ don’t make it so.

  6. 6 JimBobby 16 March, 2007 at 9:32 am

    PaulFeller, I reckon you an’ me problly’ll never see eye t’ eye on unions. A coupla weks aga, there was a small labour dispute with CN an’ Trawna GO Train service got disrupted an’ it was a big deal.

    If the CAW were t’ go on strike, it’d be a big deal fer not only the Big 3 but fer non-union Magna plants an’ all sortsa suppliers right down t’ the guy drivin’ the snack truck.

    Unions are powerful an’ union bosses like Buzz Hargrove are among the top movers an’ shakers in the country. Cryin’ “poor little us, we’re only a buncha workin’ fellers” don’t really make sense. When CUPE an’ CUPW contracts are bein’ negotiated, it’s big national news an’ any threatened disruption in service is taken with the utmost seriousness.

    Unions do have power an’ like yer sayin’ they use that power t’ better their wages an’ their workin’ conditions. I agree that their main reason fer existence an’ here in Canada, they do okay at pewrformin’ that role.

    With the troublems of Climate Change, all powerful sectors – an’ I ain’t backin’ down that unions is powerful – have new, expanded roles t’ play. Industry needs t’ retool an’ rethink an’ take emissions into consideration on every decision an’ action. Gumnmint, too. Labour, too. Individuals, too.

    It’s very convenient t’ blame capitalism fer every woe in the world. But who’s buyin’ them SUV’s an’ gas guzzlers? Ordinary Canajuns, that’s who. Union members an’ non-union members. Men an’ women. Workin’ fellers an’ stock brokers. Gummint departments, too.

    I sed a few things about the WalMarket over t’ my own boog an’ I sed I’d eat a bug on YouTube when I see the CAW go on strike until the Big 3 change over all their lightbulbs t’ CFB’s.

    Unions need t’ step up t’ the plate along with bizness, industry, gummint an’ individuals. The climate crisis demands more from every sector an’ simply carryin’ on with wage and workin’ condition-based bargainin’ ain’t enough anymore. Unions gotta accept responsibility just like everyone else does. If they don’t they ain’t workin’ fer the good of society but only fer the financial prosperity of their members.


  7. 7 paulitics 16 March, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    JimBobby – I never said unions were free of blame. That would be foolish. My point was merely that unions are not anywhere near as powerful as they were even 15 years ago nor are they anywhere near the sole or even greatest cause of un-green vehicle production.

    By definition, organized labour does not own the means of production. Show me a country in which organized labour owns the means of production (i.e. a socialist country) and I’ll show you a place where we CAN lay a majority of the blame on their doorsteps.

    The fact of the matter is that not only have corporations been waging a highly successfull war against unions since the 1980s, but union membership is consequently DECREASING rather than increasing, union rates of pay are decreasing and, with the highly mobile nature of modern capital (and you can read various capitalist trade publications which are hardly Marxist, but which back up what I’m saying here), the ability of unions to make demands on capital has decreased significantly.

    I don’t know of a single serious economist, be they Marxist, neo-Keynesian or otherwise, who would disagree that the strength of unions are on the decline and that unions are nowhere near as strong as they once were (and keep in mind that unions were never exceptionally strong in Canada as our government engaged in serious, and sometimes violent, union bustings following the Winnipeg General Strike, in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.)

    Thus the point isn’t a matter of being free of blame. Clearly there’s a enough blame to go around for everybody to get caught with a bit of it. But it is not organized labour which controls the capitalist media thus manufacturing a demand for consumers. It is not organized labour which controls the juridical structure of government in order to provide hideous tax incentives for buing SUVs and the worst gass guzzlers. It is not organized labour which controls emission standards. And, as mentioned above, it is not organized labour which controls the means of production.

    Thus, I would submit to you that, while unions are not by any stretch of imagination free from guilt, they are nowhere near even APPROACHING the most culpable in terms of environmental degredation.

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