Wiebe says NDP best positioned to govern Canada

Scott Anderson
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A growing list of political blunders by the ruling Conservatives is opening the door wide open for the New Democratic Party to lead the changing of the political landscape in Canada.

Nettie Wiebe, the guest speaker during an NDP Fundraising evening on Nov. 9 hosted by the Cypress Hills-Grasslands Federal NDP Constituency Association, said the NDP is poised to make major inroads in light of the gaffs made in Ottawa.

"It's a great time to be NDP. We're the official opposition. We are, as we've never been before in our history, federally, poised to become the government," she said before delivering her speech at Saturday's NDP event at the Lyric Theatre. "We know that in Saskatchewan, New Democrat governments can deliver good financial management. And as we know from our example here, we can deliver really highly imaginative, creative, courageous programs. And Medicare is our best example of that. And that's a New Democrat initiative."

She said the federal NDP boast a high energy, effective caucus and leadership, and the public is tiring of the current political direction of the country.

"I think we can look forward to a federal landscape where we no longer have this circus of scandal and secrecy. And peremptory measures like ending the Wheat Board or eliminating the PFRA Pastures without consultation. We can look forward to a government that is actually consultative, and broadly based, and progressive, and works for people rather than for the corporate sector. And I think that's a hugely positive perspective."

She told the crowd in Swift Current that grassroots change starts at the riding level, where the public ensures political parties work for the people.

"It's not just, and I've heard this ad nauseam now, that they're just talking to their base. But democracy is about all of us," she said. "This idea that a government, and a political party, only focuses on one segment of a population that agrees with them ideologically that's way to narrow. We're much more broad minded than that."

Wiebe pointed directly at the current Senate scandal as a prime example of how the Harper Conservatives have failed voters.

"No government has been so shameless in stacking the Senate as Harper has been. And now that he had all his buddies there, on taxpayers money doing party work, and they've gone off the rails, now it's not his responsibility? That's too late. Those are his appointments. That is the ethos he conscripted. That's how he set it up. At this point it's not good enough to say 'well, those aren't my guys any more.' 'I'm totally not responsible for any of that.' No, that's not how accountable government works."

She also argued that turing the tables and now changing their mind on the Senate is not credible.

"This is their eighth year in the Parliament, and that now they're checking to see what reforms might be possible. If they were serious this would have come up earlier, much earlier."

She was glad that Premier Brad Wall stepped on side with the NDP calling for abolition of the Senate.

"We're there not because we have a problem with individual senators. We're there because we have a problem with the democratic process, or the anti democratic process of these appointments. This isn't a democratic, accountable institution. We've said that from the beginning. I'm interested to see that the Wall government has stepped on side with that finally. And I'm hopeful that other Canadians will look up and say actually this whole senate doesn't actually serve our democracy."

Wiebe, who is a Professor of Church and Society at St. Andrew's College, also reminded that the environment has to play a factor in how Canada's economy moves forward.

"The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. And that's a famous economist who said that, and I think it's more and more apparent that we can't just think about the economy and the environment as two separate entities. The kind of climate changes we're looking at, and the kind of water issues we're looking at across the country and here in Saskatchewan mean that we have to start thinking about our economic projects from a more complex perspective. And it includes what happens in the environment, how sustainable is it."

"That's not a brake on the economy, that's making the economy sustainable in the long term. And we have to be a little more intelligent about that."

Organizations: New Democratic Party, Cypress Hills-Grasslands Federal NDP Constituency Association, Lyric Theatre

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan, Ottawa Swift Current

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