October 2011

It’s that time again. It seems like just weeks ago I was trying to decide whether or not to vote strategically the federal election or toss my vote away on the NDP, the party I actually support.

Most people that I spoke to agreed; the thing to do was talk NDP but vote liberal (basically anything to keep the Conservatives out of power).

Jack layton proved me wrong. He proved us all wrong by winning he official opposition position for the New Democratic Party.

He inspired hope for the future and restored some semblance of my faith in our parliamentary process. The thought of Harper having a majority didn’t seem so bad of someone like Jack layton was around to keep him in check.

Unfortunately, just months after his historic success, the leader of the NDP left us. But as anyone who was in downtown Toronto during the week of his passing could see, the hope he instilled during his life was still in our hearts, despite his death.

Now, in the light of the upcoming provincial election, we need to capitalize on what’s left of that hope, that energy. We need to keep it alive long enough for Andrea Horwath, NDP candidate for Premier, to ride what’s left of the orange wave and let it take her straight into our provincial legislature.

If there was a time that I would believe it were possible for the NDP to become the leaders of Ontario, it would be now, in the wake of Jack layton’s success last May.

He may not be around to physically support Horwath during her campaign, but his spirit, and the spirits he raised in generations of cynical, apathetic or disinterested voters was the greatest gift of support he could have given her.

I feel an incredible sense of urgency with this election.

If Andrea Horwath wins, and does well as premier, then she will have won a monumental battle for the vaguely left on the political spectrum.

If she succeeds, then serious progress will have one foot in the door to Canadian politics, the same door that Jack layton opened in the spring.

The NDP might have a chance to demonstrate decades of campaign promises, and show Canadi- ans that there is more to politics than the never-ending battle between the liberals and Conservatives.

“In this election you have a choice,” says Horwath, “you can stick with the status quo that’s just not working, or you can choose change.”

This election isn’t just about improving the circumstance of Ontario’s goods and services for the next four years, it’s about making the NDP a serious contender, and changing the way voters see Canadian political parties and the entire electoral process.

“People are thirsty for positive change,” says Horwath. And I pray she can give it to us. Now, we as voters now have our part to play. Don’t fall prey to the previous routine of underestimating the NDP and voting liberal. We’ve had liberal, we know we don’t want Conservative, so lets give the NDP a try.

The only way this will work is if all those thousands of people that lined up for layton’s funeral and wrote messages of love on city hall put that same faith they had in the man into his party. And in Andrea Horwath.

Jack layton may be gone but his official opposition still remains. Hope for Canada still remains. A progressive presence in parliament still remains.

Lets give Ontario that chance.

As published in the Ryerson Free Press, October 2011