Provincial Elections Signal Growing Support for Progressive Politics in Canada

October 17, 2011, 10:00 AM EST


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Progressive politics received a shot in the arm following a series of provincial elections that saw Canadians vote in more progressive candidates, a further sign that Stephen Harper's strategic effort to shift Canadian politics to the right is bearing little fruit, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"These provincial elections have emphasized Canadians growing distaste with conservative policies that put profits above people, and that support individual entitlement instead of the greater good," Lewenza said. "It's another reminder that the majority government Harper won in May of this year is tenuous, and clearly doesn't reflect the views of most Canadians."

In Ontario, Lewenza applauded voters for rejecting Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's politics of division by electing a Liberal minority government (lead by Dalton McGuinty) and substantially increasing the seat count for the provincial New Democratic Party. The election was held on October 6.

"The Liberals and NDP now must find ways to work together for the betterment of all Ontarians. There remains a great deal of work to do to rebuild the Ontario economy, create good jobs, reduce inequality, promote green energy and green jobs and expand our public services," he said.

Lewenza urged all new Members of Provincial Parliament to press for policies that benefit working people, especially young workers, the unemployed, the poor, new Canadians and the many others who have been harshly impacted by the recession and resulting aftermath.

In Manitoba voters re-elected the provincial NDP to another majority government (lead by Premier Greg Selinger) with 37 seats, one better than the party held in the previous legislature. This is the NDP's fourth-consecutive majority government in the province.

Manitobans denied the Progressive Conservatives any progress in the latest election, holding the party to 19 seats. CAW Manitoba-Area Director Tom Murphy said the result can be seen as a resounding "no" to a Conservative platform that focused on privatization and government service cuts. The election was held October 4.

In Newfoundland and Labrador the Tory majority (lead by Kathy Dunderdale, the first woman leader to win an election in the province's history) was trimmed back by a breakthrough by the New Democratic Party. The election was held on October 11.

The Tories won 37 seats, the Liberals six seats and the NDP five seats, up from one in the 2007 election. The NDP actually topped the Liberals in terms of popular vote, collecting 24.6 per cent to the Liberals 19.1 per cent. The NDP also came second in 23 other seats.

The positive election results punctuated a strong effort by CAW members, in various communities, to help elect progressive candidates to office.

Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action credited CAW local union leadership and workplace activists for their tireless efforts and ongoing political work during the elections.

"Building a stronger, more equal and just society doesn't just happen by default. It's a product of the hard work and commitment of politically active and engaged citizens," Ahn said. "It's rewarding to see so many CAW members turn their attention to politics and see how that's making a real difference in our country."

In addition to Ontario, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, elections were held in Prince Edward Island on October 3 (the Liberal Party lead by Robert Ghiz won a second straight majority), Yukon on October 11 (the Yukon Party won for a third consecutive time, with the NDP overtaking the Liberals for second place) and in the Northwest Territories on October 3, where there are no official political party affiliations and a leadership contest has yet to be held.

Saskatchewan voters will head to the polls on November 7.

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