Re: The value of a maverick, by Greg Neiman, in the Red Deer Advocate on May 2, 2014:
Greg Neiman, in his tribute to Brian Mason, underlines the minority position of the NDP and the fact that it rarely obtains more than 15 per cent of the votes at elections.
He indicates that the NDP can perhaps hope to have some influence on a future minority government.
It is an undeniable fact that the majority, the working people who are the natural bedrock for the NDP, vote time and time again for the Conservatives.
We can also safely conclude that the Conservative party is the party of big business because the bulk of the funding they receive, which has normally far exceeded that of all other parties put together, comes from big business.
The reason that the majority in Alberta has given its support to the Conservative Party is that living standards for all but the poor have, until recent times, continued to rise.
It has been the rising living standards in Alberta over more than 40 years and the ability of the system to provide reforms that has guaranteed the predominance of the Conservative party.
But living standards are falling and reforms are becoming counter-reforms.
Neiman observes that the next election could see a split vote between the Conservative and the Wildrose parties.
There is profound disagreement in the ranks of big business that has resulted in transference of allegiance and financial support. The Wildrose Party is seen as less ‘liberal’ in the sense that it can be safely depended upon to deliver cuts in order to boost profits.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and only when they are in government will we see the true colours of the Wildrose.
The deteriorating world economy will continue to affect Alberta, increasing the economic and social pressure.
If the NDP is to become a serious contender it must become a maverick, showing independence in thoughts and actions.
The party has to be opened up to involve the ranks of the trade unions in the democratic administration of the party and its campaigns.
It must appeal to the young and in particular fight to remove the enormous burden of student debt.
The NDP manifesto must reflect the needs of the population by including not only things like a 35-hour working week, a minimum of five weeks paid annual holiday entitlement, free education and a living wage to replace the minimum wage, but also seemingly small improvements such as free parking at hospitals that are so important.
It must promise to bring an end to unemployment, the need for food banks and homelessness in a society with a productive capacity that can easily afford to provide decent living standards.
The NDP must fight the next election on a socialist program.
Keith Norman Wyatt