Canada’s 44th general election was a mess from the start. From wondering why it was called in the first place, to culture war wedge politics, the rise of the extreme-right People’s Party, and along to literal stone throwing–or gravel throwing, anyway. You might want to call that a new low. It’s definitely low. But it’s not the first time Canadian elections have been nasty affairs, and it’s not even the first time rocks have been thrown. On this episode of Darts and Letters, we dive much deeper into the gravel pit. We look at past campaigns, examine the much wider political and intellectual history of Canada’s major parties, and show how all of them have sold out Canadian workers.
- First, where did the NDP’s radical ambition go? James Naylor is a professor of history at Brandon University and the author of a handful of books including The Fate of Labour Socialism: The Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation and the Dream of a Working-Class Future. He takes a look at the NDP and their transition from the product of the prairie socialist Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation to an institutionalized and de-radicalized centre-left liberal party.
- Then, we review the Trudeau years–no, not that one. The other Trudeau. Pierre Trudeau. Christo Aivalis is a historian, YouTuber, commentator, NDP supporter, and the author of The Constant Liberal: Pierre Trudeau, Organized Labour, and the Canadian Social Democratic Left. He tells us that Trudeau was trained by a Marxist and many thought of him as a socialist, believe it or not. This meant he knew the left, and so he could capture the country’s progressive energy–then sell it out to Bay St. Sound like a familiar strategy?
- Finally, the Conservatives are running a pseudo-populist right platform. Steven High from Concordia University is worried it might work. Steven is a historian of deindustrialization, and he’s seen – firsthand – working class communities flip from left to right. Could it happen this time? High says we can see lessons from the old Reform Party of the 90s and the right populism of that fractious 1993 election.
——————-FURTHER READING AND LISTENING——————
- Visit James Naylor’s page at Brandon University and check out his publications, including The Fate of Labour Socialism: The Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation and the Dream of a Working-Class Future, “Not reform, but the replacing of capitalism’: The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the 1930,” and “Whatever Happened to Labourism?” And be on the lookout for his forthcoming edited volume For a Better World: The Winnipeg General Strike and the Workers’ Revolt.
- Pick up a copy of Christo Aivalis’s book The Constant Liberal: Pierre Trudeau, Organized Labour, and the Canadian Social Democratic Left. Plus, check out his YouTube page, and his homepage, where you can find more of his work, including his latest for Canadian Dimension “Just watch him: Jagmeet Singh takes on the rich to build a better Canada.”
- Have a look at Steven High’s academic homepage and his books Industrial Sunset: the Making of North America’s Rust Belt and the co-authored Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization.
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Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn and our assistant producer this week was Ren Bangert. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop wrote the show notes and was a research assistant.
This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor.
Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.