[I wrote this immediately following my attendance at a Nathan Cullen event back in February, but failed to post it. I must admit, I admire his bravery in proposing such a bold idea.]
Vision Vancouver is a municipal political party in Vancouver that is primarily made up of Liberal, New Democrat, and Green Party partisans.They were brought together in an effort to unseat the more conservative elements of Vancouver City Council in time for a 2008 general election. It is on this model than Nathan Cullen, the Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and candidate for leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada; is basing his idea for ‘progressive cooperation.’
In a Toronto bar on the evening of February 23, Cullen gave a spirited defence of his plan his supporters and the residents of the Davenport community. He cited not just Vision Vancouver’s ability to win two mandates,but their ability to reduce homelessness by an outstanding 82% and meet their proportional Kyoto targets despite a lack of assistant from the federal government.
I believe progressive cooperation can work in an effort to unseat Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It may also work in an effort to unseat Mayor Rob Ford. However, Torontonians cannot neglect the differences in electoral systems. Toronto has not given in to the notion of municipal parties. Council is still largely considered to be a non-partisan entity; almost to a fault.
The next municipal election is a mere two and a half years away. Progressive councillors and Torontonians have a responsibility to organise around one candidate who can beat Rob Ford. This is a plan that can also be extended to defeat Ford-allied city councillors; however, it is not entirely necessary as power lies with the Mayor’s Office.
In the closing days of Toronto’s 2010 general election there were calls for Joe Pantalone to step aside so that electors could be given the black and white decision of Ford and George Smitherman. What I am proposing is starting from day one. Let Torontonians know that if we are to remove Rob Ford from office then there is only one person who can do it. I don’t know who that is. (However, I do believe Karen Stintz would be ideal.) As Nathan Cullen says, “I’m not wedded to the details.” But there is someone out there. There is someone who can represent this city’s progressive majority and beat Rob Ford to become the Mayor of Toronto.
To the moderates not willing to work with the left, and the left not willing to work with the moderates, I will again quote Nathan Cullen, “Have you got a better idea?”