The sun came up, the world did not end, the Nova Scotia NDP are in power.
As my wife joked with her mum last night “Yes mom, the NDP are going to be the government, put Dad on a suicide watch.”
All joking aside, for 25-30% of the province, the election of the NDP creates a deep personal conflict. In rural Nova Scotia, success and livelihoods have for too long been tied to the government in power handing out contracts to friends. The roots of this patronage run deep, and in the past, it has proven impossible to change the system.
John Savage and his government tried. It may surprise some people out there, but I was a huge supporter of the Savage Liberals. I knew the man from living in Dartmouth. I knew that he was running some of the smartest most capable people we had seen enter politics in decades. The Cameron PCs had spent to get re-elected and the provincial debt had doubled in two years. We were a province in deep trouble, and it was time for a change.
Savage’s own party gutted his government, largely triggered because he wouldn’t fire Tory road maintenance supervisors on the South Shore and replace them with Liberals.
Fast forward to 2009, and the NDP has become the vote of choice for people who want to see our politics modernized and brought into the 21st century. I won’t write about what ails us, because Ralph Surette does it far better than I ever could over on the Herald op/ed pages.
The second reason people some people are afraid is because of the constant stream of paniced doomsaying coming from the loony right. Risky NDP? Pshaw. NDP governments have ruled regularly in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to those provinces benefit.
What matters is not social democracy (though I have no problem with a mild, western European version of it), what matters is that the sense of entitlement of Nova Scotia’s self styled ruling elite will be shattered by this election, no less than the sense of security of a road working in Shelburne county. Patronage and old style politics will be shattered if the NDP can keep its promise to Nova Scotia. Again, as Mr Surette writes:
…platforms are not the point. What the NDP can do, if it works out right, is unlock the public energies that have been screaming to be heard over our political muddles for 30 years on any number of issues, de-couple our political processes from whatever remains of the old patronage system, and raise public confidence in government. The sense of frustration released — and the expectations — will be huge on Wednesday if it happens.
They did win, it is happening. The sun came up, birds were singing. I have said over and over on messageboards and social media “the People’s Democratic social-eco-arts utopia will not be declared today, or ever.” The biggest issue will be when the hard Left realise it is going to be left behind and not get what it wants. That is not important. What is important is fair, honest, transparent government. We have waited too long.