The Four Political Parties of Canada

Topics: Liberal Party of Canada, Canada, Bloc Québécois Pages: 12 (4405 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Four Political Parties of Canada

In a country as vast and as culturally diverse as Canada, many different political opinions can be found stretched across the country. From the affluent neighbourhoods of West Vancouver to the small fishing towns located on the east coast of Newfoundland, political opinions and affiliations range from the left wing to the right wing. To represent these varying political views, Canada has four official national political parties to choose from: the Liberals (who are currently in power), the Progressive Conservatives, the New Democrats, and the Reform Party. What is particularly interesting is that none of the latter three parties compose Her Majesty's Official Opposition in the House of Commons. The Bloc Quebecois, a Quebec separatist party who only ran candidates in the province of Quebec in the last federal election in 1993, won 54 seats in that province, and claimed the title of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition over the Reform Party, who garnered only 52 seats. Because the Bloc ran candidates only in Quebec, it would be difficult to think of them being a national political party, even though they hold a significant number of seats in the national legislature. This paper will examine the significant early history of Canada's four main national political parties, and then will analyse their current state, referring to recent major political victories/disasters, and the comparison of major economic policy standpoints, which will ultimately lead to a prediction of which party will win the next federal election in Canada.

Starting on the far left, there is the New Democratic Party of Canada. Today's modern New Democratic Party was originally called the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and was founded in 1932. Originally led by a man by the name of James Shaver Woodsworth, the CCF was formed by several radical farming groups who found out that they had more similarities with each other than just their destitution. The 1920's had been a dark period for radicals and unions within Canada; poverty and significantly lower wages for workers were prevalent, and apathy regarding these issues was rampant. When the depression wove its destructive web across Canada in the 1930s, proponents of capitalism were staggered, but their left-wing opponents were too busy coming to the aid of the victims of the depression, and could not deal with the capitalists effectively. When the CCF was officially formed in Calgary, they adopted the principle policy of being "a co-operative commonwealth, in which the basic principle regulating production, distribution and exchange will be the supplying of human needs instead of the making of profits." (Morton, p.12, 1986) Meanwhile, in Eastern Canada, a group of scholars formed the League for Social Reconstruction (LSR), and gave the Canadian left a version of socialism that was related in some respects to the current social and economic situation in Canada. In 1933, the CCF had its first major convention in Regina, Saskatchewan, and the original policy platform first proposed by the CCF was replaced by a manifesto prepared by an LSR committee and originally drafted by a Toronto scholar, Frank Underhill. The Regina Manifesto, as it is known as today, put emphasis on "economic planning, nationalisation of financial institutions, public utilities and natural resources, security of tenure for farmers, a national labour code, socialised health services and greatly increased economic powers for the central government." (Morton, p.12, 1986) As a supplement to the feverish mood created by the convention, the Regina convention concluded by saying "no CCF Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialised planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Co-operative Commonwealth." (Morton, p.12, 1986). The CCF tried to garner more popular support later down the road,...

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