“We CAN look after each other better than we do today” and “Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity.” - the late NDP Leader, Jack Layton
Emotional by nature, I am. Very. But this is the first time I’ve blogged with tears streaming down my 40-year old black-male cheeks. I’m bawling because, somewhere in this city I now call home, an extra-ordinary woman is pregnant and living on the streets. Annie Pootoogook is her name.
As I blog, I can’t hold back the tears. Until now, I thought I knew Annie. We were together at the Occupied Ottawa protest encampment at Confederation Park last fall. One of the finest of my Canadian moments, that one was. The moment I received the final invitation to abandon the comfort of my immigrant-world. The invitation to engage, without the slightest shred of fear, with the politics of my adopted country.
Last week’s 24-hour House of Commons vote on Stephen Harper‘s draconian budget Bill C-38, the “Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act”, ended in a dramatic fashion. The New Democratic Party (NDP), the Official Opposition, concluded the vote with a spontaneous: Deux mille quinze! Deux mille quinze! Deux mille quinze! chant. That’s French for 2015! But why the celebration, after a grueling marathon vote where the Conservative majority torpedoed every single one of the combined opposition’s 800 progressive amendments?
The answer: 2015. The year we’ve pinned our hopes of ridding ourselves of Harper. Through the ballot. NDP House leader Nathan Cullen characterized the chant as a “confirmation of purpose.” In other words: An assurance to Canadians that the party is already a capable alternative to the Conservatives. That’s because NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has assembled a shadow cabinet to rival the oft-bombastic but corporations-serving Conservatives.
That’s the key message in a new TV ad introducing the newly minted leader of the New Democrats, Thomas Mulcair, to Canadians. Layton’s widow, Olivia Cho, and ordinary folks, assure us that Mulcair and the NDP will continue from where Layton left off when he succumbed to cancer last August. The ad also dispels fears that Mulcair would drag Official Opposition to the centre. And that he’d turn into into a carbon version of the Liberal Party.