On December 2 Canada’s New Democratic Party, known from 1932 to 1971 as the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) changed leaders. Out went former political science professor Ed Broadbent, 53, from Canada’s car manufacturing centre, Oshawa, Ontario. In came social worker Audrey McLaughlin, 53, formerly of Toronto, more recently from the sparsely populated tundra of the Yukon.
“I stand for change,” she told the delegates. “That’s why I want to be Prime Minister.”
“Tonight we’re talking about a revolution,” said McLaughlin as she began her speech. She then compared the revolution in eastern Europe to the kind of change needed in Canada.
For the NDP, then, the future is in the past.
In the November 1988 election, Broadbent, NDP leader since 1975, saw his party’s elected Members of Parliament climb to 43 (out of 297, the highest it has ever been. Yet, like the predecessors, he failed to make any inroads in Quebec and, once again, had little impact in the Maritimes. Indeed, the increase in MPs was only the result of an accident – the free trade scare – rather than the consequences of steady growth in party strength.
Broadbent’s reputation as a politician was essentially the creation of the mass media. It was media people who decided to promote him as one capable of the country’s leadership. In reality, he was neither popular nor suitable for high office. When a country has a dearth of high-minded politicians, to say nothing of statesmen – as Canada does today – even the mediocre street fighter looks like a general.
Ed Broadbent was a political bully. His socialist ideology and arid righteousness deprived him of good judgment on just about every important issue.
Nothing illustrates Broadbent’s willful misjudgment better than his public denunciation of the American rescue action on the small Caribbean island of Grenada. There, a Marxist savage had already imprisoned or executed over a hundred of the island’s leaders. The Americans decided to put him out of business.
Broadbent was outraged. He demanded that Canada take immediate action in the United Nations to halt the action. “The invasion of Grenada,” he shouted in the House of Commons, “is an outrage worse than the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It must be stopped immediately.”
Within a few weeks Grenada had returned to normality and a government by decent citizens. Alas for Afghanistan.
At the time Broadbent spoke, some three million Afghani refugees lived the life of paupers in tents in neighboring Pakistan. Well over one million people, men, women and children, had been murdered, with many more crippled for life, in one of the most vicious wars in a century of savage warfare. Poisoning wells, strafing and bombing thousands of villages and towns, laying millions of mines in order to kill and maim civilians, the Soviets and their local Marxist henchmen had devastated the country.
Broadbent’s obscene comparison must surely count as the all-time low of Canadian statements on international foreign policy. Yet this was the man the media promoted as an excellent candidate for leader of the nation!
On another matter of human rights – the killing of the unborn – Broadbent was equally brutal. From the beginning of his leadership in 1975, when he hailed Morgentaler as a champion of women, till his November 1989 demand for the recognition of abortion as a woman’s right, Broadbent manifested a totally pro-abortion obtuseness.
This man has now been appointed head of the new International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development in Montreal – with a five-year mandate and a two-year budget of $15 million. Once again, the media have congratulated him as eminently suited for the task. In reality, his appointment is a further sign of the intellectual and moral abdication of the Mulroney government.
Audrey McLaughlin won the leadership of the NDP on December 2 on sexist grounds. Her election was typical of her party, which clings to ideology as a necessary requirement even though no one in the party quite knows what this ideology is all about. The only thing everyone agrees on is that it must be totally secular.
This time it was feminism that dominated. The radicals were all there determined to catapult one of their own sex into the leadership. The party itself has long endorsed the key to feminism, so-called “reproductive freedom,” with all this entails for the dissolution of family morality. Its leaders, males all of them, have been feminists at heart. Now with a woman at the top, party feminists are satisfied that the process has been completed.
Media commentators and party members, nevertheless, were worried. Reams of written material were devoted to earnest pondering whether McLaughlin was “qualified” for the job. She had been an MP for less than two years and she had not shown any “signs of leadership.” They observed that she came to the Yukon only some ten years ago, after stints of social work in Ontario, Africa, some wandering in Latin America and some further drifting in Canada with her marriage broken up. Until she ran for the Yukon federal seat in a by-election called after the resignation of Conservative MP Erik Neilsen, she had never played any role in the party other than an election-time volunteer.
The question, of course, was settled by the feminists. A woman they wanted and a woman they got.
The theme of McLaughlin’s speech at the convention was twofold: it is time for a change and it is time for a woman. Everyone in the party of intellectual fads knew what she meant by the latter; the time of feminism has come, the time of a woman leader for the sake of womanity. But no one knows what she means by the former.
As noted, she apparently thinks that change in Canada ought to be something like what is happening in Eastern Europe. But there, of course, it is (Marxist) socialism that is thrown to the dogs, the very thing Canadians have not allowed the Communists, or the much milder NDP, to introduce here. Hence we don’t have to get rid of it.
Instead McLaughlin attacked the free-market system, which East Europeans would like to have back. So, for her, change and the future seem to mean stagnation and the past.
At any rate the new NDP leader is firmly in favour of a woman’s right to kill her unborn baby. This, one presumes, is another sign of a bright future for the party.
Chris Axworthy, a Saskatoon MP, reminded the 2400 delegates what the NDP stands for:
“No government has the right to say to any woman anywhere in this country that if she takes a pro-choice decision and has an abortion, she becomes a criminal.
Only the government is criminal in taking that kind of position.” So much for human rights.
So much for feminism. So much for the NDP.