'Jack would have liked that, a lot'

Brian Topp considers the last 12 months for the NDP and looks ahead to the next three years.

Which gets us to a final point: what to do about the federal government’s crisis of relevance? Recent Liberal and Conservative governments have worked together on a common agenda to make Canada’s national government largely irrelevant to the daily lives of most Canadians. Today’s federal government is a Parliament, it is a public service, it is an army and police force, and it is a largely unconditional bank machine for provinces.

Small wonder that Canadians increasing tune federal politics out. Small wonder Parliament in recent times has been about embarrassing squabbles over trivia. What else was there to talk about? Here is the fundamental mission of the New Democrats: to demonstrate that the Liberal/Conservatives are wrong, and that there are indeed important projects and priorities that Canadians can and should work on together. Not symbolic issues, designed to get us angry and to divide us from each other. The real stuff: Equality. Jobs. Health care. Economic security. The environment. Reclaiming our good name in in the world. New Democrats need to find a way to give Canadians hope that we are more than the sum of our parts, and that there is much we can do together to make a good country a much better one – carefully and prudently, one practical step at a time, without reigniting the old federal-provincial wars that separatists and conservatives build on, each in their own special way.

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