Ontario politics: Kennedy elected

zodiac zodiac at interlog.com
Fri May 24 06:35:00 MDT 1996


Gerard Kennedy last night won the York South riding for Ontario (it's in
midtown Toronto). It was the seat held by former NDP Ontario Premier Bob
Rae. He resigned in Feb, so this was a by-election.

    Liberals 7774
    NDP      6656
    Tories   5095

    Ontario has three primary parties: The Progressive Conservatives (the
    Tories), the Liberals, and the New Democratic party (NDP -- kinda like
    a labor party, if you will).

This is important for two reasons: 1) The riding was held by the NDP for
41 years and 2) Kennedy is going to make a strong bid to become leader of
the Liberal Party.

Gerard Kennedy is 35, he has impeccable middle class "lefty" credentials.
He ran a high profile Toronto food bank and fought the Tory cuts every
step of the way. He is exactly the sort of candidate the NDP used to run.
Old Liberal leader Lyn McLeod (a sheltered small town yahoo) will not run
again, and a Liberal leadership campaign is set for November. She already
seems to be endorsing Kennedy.

The NDP held provincial power for the first time ever between 1990 and
1995.  After that "swing left", a revamped Tory party was elected,
neo-Cons, following the "Common Sense Revolution." Strongly defined class
lines, business business business. This is the party of Ontario premier
Mike Harris.

The once "socialist," pro-labor NDP became, under Bob Rae, nothing but an
old style centrist/Keynesian party with strong labor ties. This disgusted
pretty much everyone, diehard supporters included.

Kennedy's victory in an NDP stronghold, multi-ethnic, working class riding
is a big slap in the face to the NDP. Especially because the NDP are in
the middle of a leadership campaign to select Rae's replacement. This
might have interesting repercussions...

Here's the point:

    1. The Liberals are notorious for wriggling with the times.  That is
    why the papers are now full of great stories about Kennedy. What is
    Kennedy's claim to fame? Longtime service at a Toronto food bank. The
    Liberals are swinging left to try to tail the massive discontent
    building among the working class and allied groups. Kennedy attacked
    Harris and free marketeers throughout his campaign.

    2. This happens right in the middle of the NDP leadership race --
    which features four people. Three are Old Guard Rae-style centrists,
    and one is Peter Kormos, member from Welland. Kormos bucked Rae
    continually, and when the party went down in flames last election,
    Kormos was easily reelected by his working class riding. His
    constituents like him. And Kormos is calling very strongly for the
    NDP to return to being (and I quote) not a social democratic party
    but a democratic socialist party.

    Kormos disagreed publicly with Rae over lots of issues, like no fault
    auto insurance. Kormos called Rae a liar over the Grandview School for
    Girls rapes and coverup. Kormos posed (as a joke) as a "Sunshine Boy"
    in a tabloid paper (he was fully clothed, but you could see he was
    wearing cowboy boots, the degenerate).

    The rank and file like Kormos, the party bosses hate him.

    3. When the NDP made a strong move to the right before, that sent the
    other two parties further right, ending up with Harris. If the
    Liberals are swinging left with Kennedy (Mr Food Bank), Kormos might
    suddenly be the only thing the NDP have to distinguish them from
    Kennedy. Otherwise, they will be "out lefted".

    If Kormos becomes NDP leader, the combination of Kormos and Kennedy on
    the left of Harris would mean the political/class lines in Ontario are
    about to get sharper and the conflict hotter.

Anyway ... I'm sure most don't care about Ontario politics. (Where does
Ontario rank in global economic size, anyway? I recall it being around
15th or something five years ago. Maybe the size of California?)

But I think the movement of the bourgeois parties in this time of
seemingly endless economic crisis is interesting. It certainly shows how a
three party system is "more elastic," and "eats up" protest better, than a
two party system. LPA advocates take note.

Ken.


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