Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Parkdale, Nash, the NDP and the 2006 Federal Elections


In Parkdale-Highpark, NDPer Peggy Nash
is making another go for Liberal Sarmite
Bulte's MP job. Bulte has done nothing
substantial for Parkdale-Highpark.
But at the very least, she has shown up
to community events in the area since
the last election. Talking to folks in
southern Parkdale, they have told me
that they have not seen Nash since the
last election.

Much of southern Parkdale's population
is the working poor and recipients of the
very social services the NDP says its out to
protect. Southern Parkdale is truly NDP
territory although it seems to have been
given up to the Libs for lack of NDP
organization in the area.

(THE EASY WAY, short-term)

The easiest way for Nash to win this riding
is if Jurij Klufas, the Conservative
candidate strips a few thousand votes
from Bulte.

In the 2004 election, Nash (16,201)
lost to Bulte (19,727) by over 3,500
votes. Although a loss to Nash, it
was a 50 per cent increase in popularity
for the NDP, considering that in
the federal election of 2000, the NDP
got less than 8,000 votes.

In 2004 Bulte lost 1,000 votes, and the
Green Party gained slightly more than
2,000 votes. This is quite the achievement
for the greens since this equates to a 200%
increase in votes for the politcal newcomers.

According to the 2000 election results,
the merger of the Canadian Alliance
with the PC's should have given the
new Conservatives in Parkdale-Highpark
under Klufas about 10,500 votes in the
2004 election. But Klufas got just
over 7,000 votes. Not bad for someone
who didn't even bother showing up to
all-candidates neighbourhood meetings.

Another interesting statistical tid-bit
was the voter turn-out. In the 2000
election, 42,000 people cast their vote.
In 2004, 47,000 people in
Parkdale-Highpark voted.

Here are the statical questions:
Where did Bulte's 1000 lost votes go?
Where did the conservative's 3,500
lost votes go? And for which parties
did 5,000 new voters, vote?

Here is a hint. The only two parties
to gain substantially in the 2004
elections were the NDP with an
additional 8,000 votes and the greens
with an increase of more than 2,000 votes.

This year though, we should not
underestimate the performance of the
Conservatives and Klufas.
The Conservatives are enjoying a wave
of popularity across the country.
And right here in Parkdale, Klufas is
actually showing up to all-candidates

At the all-candidates meeting at Parkdale
High School on Jan.16, Klufas charmed
the audience with his sense of humour
and simple, regular guy charm.
He is the guy to watch this year
for vote gains. It's doubtful he will get
the new vote. What he may do,
to Nash's benefit, is strip the
Libs of what could be thousands
of votes, pitting Nash and Bulte in a
neck and neck race.

(THE HARD WAY and for the long run)

If the NDP wants to win this riding,
it has got to work way before an election
is called. Southern Parkdale is not an
easy neighbourhood to organize.
But if the NDP says it represents the poor,
the working poor and the working class,
then this is NDP territory.

Given the population density of southern
Parkdale, if good work is done here, you
know that this poor and downtrodden part
of Toronto can send an NDPer to Ottawa.

To organize effectively, the NDP needs
workers in each block of Southern Parkdale,
if possible in each building in Parkdale.
You get this through talking to old-time
neighbourhood organizers. Remember,
they may not be party organizers but they
know the neighbourhood and the people
here better than anyone in the NDP. If they
have trouble organizing for the party, the
party can help them get organized.

The Liberals already instituted their own
cell in Parkdale and other low-income
neighbourhoods to take over community
space and organizations through their
economic development corporations.
Through government funded, ostensibly
independent "community" organizations,
the Liberals are able to rule over poor
neighbourhoods, taking over every nook
and cranny of civic space, and giving
regular folks and the neighbourhood
nothing in return.

Now if the Libs can organize in poor
neighbourhoods, albeit with lots of
cash at their disposal, why can't the
NDP? I know that higher level NDPers
suffer from racism, classism, sexism
and a sense of intellectual superiority,
but so do the Libs and that didn't stop
them from organizing in Parkdale and
making alliances with other Libs in
the area.

The people of Parkdale have been
organizing in their own small way without
support for years. All these people need
is a little moral support from the party
and some resources to organize
south Parkdale and then the NDP may
stand a chance of wining here with the
efforts of the people of Parkdale.

However the challenge for the NDP
will be to support southern Parkdale
in its bid to organize, accepting
Parkdalians as allies rather than
followers. Fierce independence is
part and parcel of being poor and
fighting for your rights.

If the NDP is willing to support
locals in their independent bid
to support the party and its social
platform, then the federal NDP might
just win another seat in Ontario.