Those permanent socialist hordes

Citing the latest of several Corporate Research Associates polls showing Darrell Dexter’s New Democrats with a comfortable lead, longtime Progressive Conservative Rob Smith has a piece in today’s [subscription required] proposing some form of Liberal-Tory co-operation to prevent what the news service alarmingly headlines, “Socialists forever.”

Beware of blue Bolsheviks!

This argument would be more persuasive if the Dexter Government had shown any sign of being either permanent or socialist. Dexter won office less than three years ago,  and he did so by turning quietly away from the strident leftist approach of previous NDP leaders, and toward centrist policies where Nova Scotia voters have traditionally found their comfort zone. The phrase, “for today’s families,” doesn’t exactly call to mind Rosa Luxemburg.

The NDP’s historic breakthrough reflects two longterm political trends.

  • As Western Canada and — to a lesser extent — Ontario turned sharply right over the last 20 years, Nova Scotia remained true to what might be called Red Tory values: We remain economically moderate and socially liberal. The widening gulf makes us look uncharacteristically leftish by comparison, but it’s the Uppity Canadian leopards who’ve changed their stripes, not us.
  • Over the same period, party divisions within Nova Scotia have coalesced into three clear zones: Liberal Cape Breton; Tory rural mainland; and NDP Metro. Dexter won the last election on the strength of inroads not in Cape Breton, where he picked up no additional seats, but in the rural mainland, where loyal Tories winced at the Rodney Interregnum.

If Dexter were recklessly pursuing ideology over the province’s best interests, an opposition coalition might be in order. I believe the Harper government’s US Republican-style extremism should cause Liberals, New Democrats, and disaffected Stanfield Progressive Conservatives to explore avenues of co-operation.

But to argue that anything Dexter has done is so far outside the mainstream, or so redolent of permanent hegemony, as to inspire a Tory-Liberal Union is, forgive me Rob, just silly.