There may be some confusion in the union halls of Canada this weekend. As Buzz Hargrove, grand pooh bah of all Canadian unions came out and suggested that union members should think about the Liberal party as a fine place for their votes to find a home.
One imagines Jack Layton trying to figure out where his base just went to, with Hargrove tying his wagon to the Liberal machine. Strategic voting has come to the union movement, with the Hargrove solution being to vote NDP in those ridings where they are a shoo in, and Liberal in all others, rather than give the Conservatives the benefit of a split vote.
The thinking seems to be that in vote rich Ontario, the Liberals probably would be more inclined to help out the Auto workers during this time of major restructuring in the auto industry. Liberals dedicated as they are for industrial hand outs and corporate assistance in times of economic stress, probably fit more into the CAW’s plans than even the NDP could. Reality dictates that the NDP probably will never form a National gov’t, so the CAW may as well skip the preliminaries and just move on to the main event.
For Hargrove it’s probably a case of an investment in Martin today, would come back and help Hargrove’s own constituency later on in the new year, when the big cuts and belt tightening take effect. With inevitable threats to close even more plants to come, it probably makes political sense for the CAW to find a place at the front of the Liberal line, but it will be a hard sell for those true apostles of a workers paradise.
And while it may be a pragmatic approach to voting, it’s not being universally met with glee by some of Mr. Hargrove’s rank and file. The CAW in Saguenay (with a large Bloc Quebecois population) has condemned Hargrove’s plans suggesting that the union should stay out of politics. This would be a fine piece of theatre if only the bona fides of the Saguenay locals weren’t so tied to the sovereigntist movement of Quebec. In Quebec the NDP has never been able to crack the nationalist crowd’s core, members there prefer their brothers and sisters in the Bloc federally and the Parti Quebecois provincially. Imagine their horror at the national boss suggesting they support the Satan of all they abhor.
The Buzz from Buzz also hasn’t quite resonated with the NDP rank and file either, in fact they aren’t exactly adopting the theory of suitable second choice. In Vancouver Centre the NDP have purposely put in a candidate to topple Liberal MP Hedy Fry. Svend Robinson has been brought out of political exile (after his diamond ring fiasco) to stand for the NDP in the Vancouver riding, hoping to steal (sorry I couldn’t resist) enough of the Fry vote away to deny her a return to Ottawa.
Hargrove’s comments came at the end of the first week of campaigning and delivered a much welcomed push for the Martin campaign, while at the same time must have knocked some of the air out of Smilin’ Jack Laytons theme of the NDP on the rise. Who would have thought that the first shocking moment of the campaign would come at the expense of Jack Layton and the NDP. Layton surely must be asking aloud, Et tu Buzz!
After week one, they find themselves already involved in damage control, not something anyone expected to happen to that party so quickly in the campaign. In the shot in the foot category, this week goes to the NDP with an assist to the CAW!