Earlier this month, as the dizzying 36-day federal election campaign was accelerating, I was driving north through Secwepemc Territory, the traditional homeland of my people in the mountainous Interior of British Columbia. After spending the night in Kamloops, the largest city in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, where I stopped to visit a cousin who lived on the streets, I continued my journey north. On the side of the Trans-Canada Highway and then Highway 97, I saw what was a symbol of hope to me: the orange signs of the local NDP candidate, Bill Sundhu.
I consider myself a southpaw. I support a more compassionate social safety net, a stronger role for the public sector in the economy, smarter regulations, particularly to protect public health, the environment and our climate. I believe that immigration and diversity strengthen democracy. At the same time, I support the right of indigenous peoples to self-determine within and beyond colonial boundaries. The NDP has long shared many of these views and values, so when it comes time to vote, they often have my support. (Although this election season, as in many past elections, I am living in the United States. Without a permanent residence in Canada, I am disqualified to vote).
However, I sometimes worry that I may regret supporting Canada’s left-wing party, not because the New Democrats are not faithful to their ideology, but because elections are most often won by competing for voters in the middle. After all, the NDP has never won a majority of seats at the federal level and has only formed the official opposition once. And in a parliamentary system where the center-left forces are divided between the NDP, the Liberals, the Greens and the Québec bloc, the Conservatives have a structural advantage. They know it: they use it to their advantage all the time, and under their new leader, Erin O’Toole, they veered to the center.
On Monday, the Liberals won a minority government, a much milder victory than they had expected at the start of the campaign, but a victory nonetheless.. The NDP, whose leader Jagmeet Singh is the most popular politician in Canada, according to polls, was poised to win three seats by the deadline. Sundhu, my boy in Kamloops, was not among the victors. Conservatives have owned that leadership since it was created in 2004, and it was the same story in 2021. Frank Caputo, the Conservative candidate, won more than 42 percent of the popular vote, followed by Sundhu with 28.9 percent. .
Looking at these returns, I wonder if it had to be this way. The Conservatives got a convincing plurality of votes, sure, but the center-left parties collectively won more. What if they had acted more strategically, communicating the challenge to their voters and presenting only one candidate to face the right at the polls? Or what if progressive voters in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo and across the country had resorted to a resource like the Strategic voting guide and cast your vote for the center-left candidate with the best chance of victory according to the polls? Why, at a time when progressive leadership is so needed in the fight against COVID-19, against climate change and against the rise of right-wing authoritarianism, are the political minds of the Canadian left not working together to defeat our common adversary? and promote a common cause? After all, it is simple arithmetic.
“I am certainly better represented by the NDP. But as a Canadian, and especially as a First Nations Canadian, the most pressing question is always how I will be governed,” writes # Indigenous # Elxn44 #cdnpoli @jnoisecat for @natobserver.
As Justin Trudeau and the Liberals embark on the hard work of building a minority government, which will require the cooperation of the NDP or the Bloc, I find it curious that, on the left, coalition building always seems to emerge after almost devastating losses. . If only a few more constituencies had voted as Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, O’Toole would be prime minister and I would have regretted the day I looked at those little orange posters, a wary sense of hope rising in my chest. Without a doubt, I am best represented by the NDP, whose resurgence under Singh is one of Canada’s most promising political developments. But as a Canadian, and especially as a First Nations Canadian, the most pressing question is always how I will be governed.