Monday, May 9, 2011

Wisconsin Protests Had Nearly Zero to Do with 2011

I've seen a blogger out there trying to link the Wisconsin union protests to the rise of the New Democrats here in Canada, saying that Governor Scott Walker's attacks against unions in the US has somehow "shifted the consciousness" of the nation.

It's utter, complete garbage, and no one with a rational mind should believe it for a second.

The reasons for the shifts in this election are fairly clear: two traditional parties, the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois, collapsed midway through the campaign thanks to the onslaught of a popular Quebecker who lives in Toronto that is running the NDP, made Mulroney-style overatures to Quebec, and as the saying goes, how Quebec moves is usually how the nation moves. Non-NDP voters fled to the Conservatives after the clear collapse of the Liberals, giving them a majority, and giving the NDP a strong presence as the Official Opposition.

This was not some union-driven campaign that changed the heart of a nation; in fact, this was probably one of the more boring campaigns, even after the NDP surge. Only 61% of Canadians voted, barely a tick upwards from 2008, while the major shift took place in Quebec for the NDP for reasons other than Wisconsin, and the smaller shifts outside of Quebec took place because of what was going on inside Quebec. Union issues didn't make a single appearance during this campaign, except as an attack against the New Democrats. No one I've talked to, even my NDP friends, said a single word about unions, or Wisconsin, or anything to do with the protests there.

Not only that, note that during the protests themselves, which we'll say was essentially January to March, the NDP recieved no huge uptick in support. This surge occurred during the campaign - not before. There was no great revelation during the campaign about Wisconsin. Maybe it influenced some voters, though I guarantee those voters were leaning NDP before anyways. But the vast majority, and we're talking 95% here, were not influenced because of Wisconsin.

Why is this sort of thing being perpetrated? No idea, though I'm relatively sure its because certain people don't understand our politics very well. They should possibly take a class or two, because it's pretty damn obvious who, where, and what happened this election - even if the "why" is still somewhat fuzzy. We do know, however, the "why" is not Wisconsin. It makes no sense.


  1. "Union issues didn't make a single appearance during this campaign, except as an attack against the New Democrats." but they sure are going to make a difference from now on it seems with the NDP as Official Opposition... Canadian Labour Congress seeks NDP support, aims to boost public profile

    and here... New Rules of Engagement

  2. John,

    Of course they'll seek influence now, just as they did with Rae back in 1990-95. The question is, will Jack stand up to them for the good of the nation as Rae did for Ontario?

    And interesting article, Mr. Prince.

  3. Much as I like the idea of a general upsurge of progressive consciousness, I'm forced to agree. I suspect that outside of a minority of already politically engaged Canadians, not many are well-aware of the goings-on in Wisconsin, let alone about how they might connect to Canadian politics.

  4. Sixth Estate,

    You're absolutely right. I don't doubt that there was some influence coming out from WI, but as you said, it was influencing people who were already politically engaged - definitely not a large portion of the voting population. It was Jack, not Wisconsin - good for its own reasons for the NDP, to point out.

  5. Volkov,
    Pressure from Quebec (which by the way has a strong union base) on social issues and Labours' wants and desires is going to keep Jack busy. What the end result and/or mix will be is anybody's guess?

    SE, I believe you are right but at the same time I think we are going to see that change soon enough. People here in this country are about to become 'engaged', I'm thinking.

  6. John,

    Very true, the end result is really unknown. But, I don't think the union issue was why the NDP went up in Quebec - it was the nationalist card played by Jack.

  7. Volkov,

    Your absolutely right. Sorry, I was referring to Quebec in the sense that they are more left leaning and socially progressive and therefore very complimentary to labour. It's agood match and a powerful combination provided it does not blow up in their faces, with people's expectations not being met ,over the next 4-5 years.

  8. John,

    I figure that even if Jack can't get stuff done in Opposition, Quebec will stick with the NDP for at least a couple of election cycles, until they either get into government (and Jack/whoever fails to live up to the promises there) or Quebeckers realize the NDP can't get enough support outside of their province to win.

  9. Volkov,
    Yes, I think you have nailed it. Best!