I went to a small political meeting recently. At the meeting, a local political candidate spoke of the political and economic situation facing the country. The Conservative Government is imposing austerity measures on the nation in order to deal with the deficit caused by rescuing banks which had made unwise investments. Public sector pay has been frozen and raised at tiny levels, while executive pay has increased several hundred per cent over the last few years. In a comparatively rich nation, with one of the highest GDP in the world, the poor are being squeezed, public services are being cut and privatised, and even the lower middle classes are beginning to be squeezed by spiralling rental costs, while the top ten per cent are better off than ever. Public investment is on hold, food banks are popping up everywhere and the plutocrats are telling us all we need to tighten up the public purse to pay for the economic mess, which is often suggestively blamed on the welfare scroungers and immigrants. Hope is in the air: the Conservatives trail in the polls and it looks as if a progressive government will be voted in to turn things around.
It is a sorry and familiar story. But I do not speak of the UK, of the Conservatives and Labour, but of Canada, the Conservatives and the NDP. The speaker was Linda McQuaig, author, social commentator, and hopeful candidate in the Toronto Central Riding (Constituency) for the left wing progressive NPD Party which, under the leadership of Tom Mulcair, looks like it might form its first government in Canada’s federal elections in October. The other opposition party , the Liberals, seem to be on the retreat, and the NDP demolition of the nationalist Bloc Quebecois party, leave NDP open to take power.
I certainly admire McQuaig and her writing, seeing her as a commentator rather like Britain’s Owen Jones (although a little to the right of him). Canadian PM Stephen Harper has become quite unpopular, and the battle is there for the winning. I certainly hope the NDP do gain power and stop the harmful cycle of austerity and plutocracy that has damaged Canada, and is the UK’s lot following a dismaying election result here. As Labour pulls itself apart for a lengthy leadership battle, I hope there will be good news from Canada to give us hope. Plutocracy has gone on too long!