Check out this coverage of the spat between NDP leader Howard Hampton and Green leader Frank de Jong (for non-Canadians, the 46-year-old “New Democratic Party” is the leftmost mainstream party) over whether charging people to use natural resources and roads means “privatizing” them:
Mr. Hampton denied twisting the Green party’s positions.
“I have not mischaracterized their platform one bit,” he said during an early-morning campaign stop in Sudbury. “I encourage people to read their platform and think about the implications of private water, private electricity and private roads and think about what that would mean for average working people.”
Mr. de Jong said he has no interest in privatizing public services. He admitted the Green platform does call for new water taxes, but said that is vastly different from privatization. And while the Greens back the construction of private renewable energy projects, their platform makes no mention of private roads.
“Howard is fishing for something, but he’s in the wrong pond,” Mr. de Jong said.
For his part, Mr. Hampton attacked the Green party’s call for electricity rates to be increased in the next three years to reflect the true cost of power generation.
“They are all in favour of letting rates go through the roof and laying off tens of thousands of workers,” he said.
It’s hard to grasp how both propositions in that last quote could be true — if electricity rates went through the roof and the generation system that’s now almost all in public hands became a profit-making venture, why would they have to lay off tens of thousands of people? And if they could lay off tens of thousands of people while making more money … why does the power system need them now?
The NDP’s caught. It’s been the default party of sandal-wearing granola-crunchers for a long time, but it’s also the party of big labour, and those two constituencies are increasingly mutually exclusive. Voters have realized that you can’t be in favour of making stuff free, like water, while simultaneously being in favour of limiting its use — unless you also favour extremely heavy regulation. That’s how the NDP would solve most problems, but it’s sure not a vote-getter.