The Left Should Sideline The Woke

Walking through the charming historic town of Ladysmith, I spied a pamphlet declaring that “Canadian pensions are too low!”. I was shocked to learn that the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and Old Age Security (OAS) add up to a paltry $18,000 to $20,000 per year.

This pocket literature was created by the Seniors Tin Cup campaign, a movement advocating that pensions be increased to match the Canadian poverty line of $25,252 per year – an eminently reasonable demand.

The pamphlet caught my eye because it is reminiscent of Canada’s old Left, those patriotic men and women who fought for the poor and downtrodden without bothering themselves with woke diversity crusades.

J.S. Woodsworth (1874-1942) was the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (the CCF is the forerunner of today’s NDP). He founded the Social Gospel movement, which taught that Christ’s second coming will not take place until Christians energetically and lovingly rid the world of suffering, poverty, and war. He was even arrested and charged with seditious libel during the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 for quoting Isaiah 10:1 (“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees…”).

Despite all of this, Woodsworth is disowned by today’s woke Left because he was a proud nationalist who rejected mass immigration and demanded that immigrants become “Canadianized”. In an attempt to cancel him, fanatical academics comb through his writing to pinpoint phrasing or concepts now considered prejudicial – without acknowledging that the worldview of a man born in 1874 will inevitably diverge significantly from the prevalent worldview in 2024.

Woodsworth is just one figure among many who made up an older Canadian Left which combined a deep compassion for society’s most vulnerable with a staunchly patriotic defense of the nation.

You almost never hear today’s woke Left speak in terms of class – instead, it’s a nauseating hamster wheel of systemic racism, diversity, microaggressions, discrimination, and white privilege. None exemplify this new movement better than NDP leader Jaghmeet Singh, with his Rolex watches and bi-monthly tearful public statements levying fresh accusations of intolerance against Canadian society. 

This is undoubtedly a major reason why polls show the NDP trailing the Conservatives in the one-time NDP bastions of Vancouver Island and northern Ontario. What is there for an unemployed former mill worker in Powell River to admire in a leader like Singh?

I often write about a similar distortion of original principles at play on the Right. The Conservatives, once the party of family and flag, have become the party of free trade and free markets. Whether the Right should move back to an old-school conservatism of high tariffs and low immigration is a much-debated matter, and remains unsettled. I’m working on it!

Back to the main topic: if the Left wants to regain credibility, the fringe woke minority needs to be sidelined and tossed out of the Greens and the NDP. The return of the old Left of Tommy Douglas and Ed Broadbent would be an invigorating breath of fresh air.

Editor’s note: My Counter Current column is published once every two weeks in the Islands Marketplace paper on Salt Spring Island (islandsmarketplace.com/issue.pdf). This piece was published on May 3rd, 2024.

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