Left, Right and the space in between: Conquering the Great Divide in politics.

As many readers know, I grew up in a rural area just north of Prince George and enjoyed a childhood that I look back on with fond memories now, as an adult living on the coast.

It’s because of that rural upbringing, that I have often feel like I have a unique perspective to bring to the table on many issues, and one of those issues is the great political divide between the “Left” and “Right”- a very sweet spot that I think holds a lot of power in any vote.

British Columbia is a pretty interesting place when it comes to politics. With a lot of traditionally left leaning big labour,union back industry, one would think an NDP government would always win provincial elections, but they don’t. Many union members will vote for the Liberals despite leaders saying they should vote NDP – happens up north all the time, and many non-party voters afraid of change will vote Liberal too.

In fact we’ve had a Liberal government for over a decade, much to the frustration of the BC NDP, who’ve changed leaders/strategists/faces/clothes and still can’t pull in the votes. Why?

It’s my opinion that the majority of people in this province, and this country, really spend most of their lives residing in the space created by the Great Divide between left and right political parties. They don’t care to join a political party, they might not follow politics at all unless it’s the morning of voting day, or perhaps they limit it to paper headlines and coffetime chats.

If you were to ask them where they stand on various issues politicians like to use as emotional tools during elections (crime,taxes,jobs and education) you would likely find they lean left on some issues and right on others. To them, it’s the issue and how that issue is addressed that matters, not the political ideology behind the party trying to get that vote. Whatever  party happens to hit that nerve for them will likely get their vote.

It’s what makes the space between Left and Right, the sweet spot to aim for in politics. So far, the left hasn’t been able to conquer the great divide in BC and it’s because they can’t get those non-party,slightly conservative centrist votes no matter what they do. And when I use the word conservative here,I don’t mean the political party kind of conservative,I mean cautious – likely to err on the side of being careful.

The current transit tax plebiscite here in Metro Vancouver, has raised the ugly specter of partisan politics once again and as I’ve previously written, it only serves to further remove those in centre further away from politics:

” To be honest, I’m very concerned about where the labels assigned to political leanings have taken us. What I am seeing in the press and among regular people on social media, is a compete discounting of any ideas, policies, or changes.. based not on the merit of those items… but based on the label assigned to the person it originated from. Frankly, it’s a bit frustrating because in the end, it is the voters of this province that suffer the most from all these partisan politics.

I guess if you had to label me, I would be a leftie with a small L. But when it comes to finances, I am very conservative and I say that not to indicate the party, but that I think government needs to be really, very cautious when spending public money. But if you say you are a fiscal conservative, well, frankly, in some left factions, the world comes to an end.

Likewise, if you are a rightie BC liberal, and actually care about poverty and education and civil rights, you again cause worlds to collide.

Sadly though, for so many covering and living politics in BC, as soon as the label LEFT or RIGHT appears, the ears and mind close to anything further.

Doesn’t matter if the NDP have a good idea, the Libs or Cons will never accept or acknowledge it.

And God forbid those socialist NDP’ers come up with a good idea, because as Bill Bennett will tell you, they are a bunch of Commies.

So what the hell does a person like myself, who is sick of party politics, but is “left” on most issues, “Right” on others to do?

Hell if I know!!

It’s appalling to me on so many levels that public and political discourse has come to this in BC, leaving so many people discontent, unengaged and bereft of a political home because of partisan politics.

Both the Liberal and NDP leaders have spoken about bringing change, and bringing people back to politics, but I am just not seeing it…”

That was from 2013 and from the looks of the divisiveness that has been and continues to be created by the transit tax vote, it proves to be still an issue with long-lasting repercussions.

Progressives like myself are being labelled Right-wing operatives for voting No by others on the left…some of whom are working side by side with developers and others who stand to benefit directly from more Translink funding!

Cities and regions are divided because of vastly different needs and values and insults are flying left, right and centre. I’ve seen people told they must be stupid not to understand what is at stake here,that their opinions and their realities are wrong. It’s insane.

The single resident in Vancouvers West-end who’s never lived outside that area in their life, is often so far removed from the realities of families or couples in the suburbs south of the Fraser,it’s a complete disconnect between the two. Neither is wrong for their view,but neither can win in this ballot or this political climate.

It’s likely to be remembered for being one of the best examples of what poor leadership and policy making can accomplish,along with a good dose of partisanship served up on the side.

It’s all more than a bit sad and disappointing to see. Frankly I often wear my heart on my sleeve and my readers know very well where I stand on issues of social change and betterment. It’s all here on this blog. I’ve documented more than a 100 reasons the Liberals need to go and this plebiscite I’m still voting No in, is one more to add to the list.

Do our political parties really even want to conquer that great divide? Considering the extent of the partisanship on both sides, I don’t think so.Clark snipes at Horgan in the legislature and he snipes right back.Shes out playing to media at soccer games and he’s having coffee with people outside of Metro Vancouver who are telling him they can’t make ends meet. But does anything really ever change?

A wise man once said that one of the reasons people hate politics so much is that truth is rarely a politicians objective. Getting elected and power are.

I’d like to believe that’s not true- in fact I know it isn’t in many cases. Let’s prove that wise man wrong. Let’s open our ears, move things forward in a non-partisan manner and bring the people back into politics.


13 Comments on “Left, Right and the space in between: Conquering the Great Divide in politics.


    I wrote the following and those mentioned were or are NDP’ers. I got not one reply. What do any readers here think?

    Bruce, Chad, Mike and any others interested in what our Province is becoming with the politicians and system we have. We talk and talk but nothing is ever resolved. First a little history that you probably know.

    Bud Smith and Bill Vanderslam, mostly comes from Bud wrote up the recall referendum package way back when, mostly based on how the Swiss R & R work. To give the people a voice all the time, not just voting day. Now Harcourts Government came into power, part of the reason was they promised to install The R & R if elected. They installed it, it took them 4 years to do this and their lawyers had changed it so much that it is what it is today. (Garbage)

    Now! What if we gather thousands of people like us, Approach lets say the NDP and promise them we will work and get them elected next term, IF! I repeat, IF! they promise to put the R & R back in force the way it was originally set up by old Bud.

    A recall referendum act that the people could use, one that worked, not the shit they have now. One that gave the people a voice if and when necessary.
    Mikes Direct Democracy would be a fact then. Anybody, please , anybody with any ideas on something like this, let me know your thoughts. Positive thoughts if possible.


  2. the only way the political climate will ever improve is by eliminating the party system and replacing it with electing a leader and MLA’s without a party tag.

    They must agree and sign a taxpayers bill of rights that forces them to vote their constituents voice and not a party slamdunk.

    No more party donations, no more of the political crap that goes on. If the MLA does not fulfill his obligation to his constituents he is dismissed without severence.

    This should be no different than any other job.

    NO more special entitlements, sick of hearing about them and paying for them.

  3. Excellent article Laila, The current state of politics in B.C. has for many, resulted in taxpayers feeling disenfranchised.
    The irony here being that the life blood of our open democracy is vulnerable to being hi jacked by special interests. You here this allegation often in parliament.
    If there is a great divide as you speak, i only hope they are the voice of reason going forward.
    I have great faith in the great divide not because of their indecisiveness, but rather their reluctance to tie themselves to the right or the left. A bit like you Laila.
    Fact based information coupled with purposeful objectives and goals does not rely on your political leanings, rather your good judgement.
    These are the people I listen for and listen to.
    Thank you for what you do Laila.

  4. A responsible government, things that make you go hmm. A Plebiscite vote ( I also will vote no) to advise the mayors, to advise the new CEO while paying the ex CEO, while the minister receives extra pay for the portfolio to oversee the operation that will have a Billionaire observe theexpenditures. They created a Police force and kept the security force , have not figured out how to install turnstiles ,which would make the police unnecessary. Cyclists receive free pathways with more planned and the current government won’t guaranty taxes collected will be exclusively for transit. Wow I think I miss Phil Gallardi and that says allot.

  5. Only about 17-20% of voters think in terms of Left vs. Right. The rest of voters mix and match. Some vote for the person, some vote (even though we obviously don’t have a ‘Presidential’ system) for the person/party they feel has the best leader. All those pictures in the last election of Christie Clark wearing a hard hat and a safety vest were meant to speak, almost sub-consciously, to the non-aligned (some would say ‘instinctive’ voters). It worked. Left vs. Right, didn’t mean a damn thing yet some Parties seem to think that it still does. I agree with you that the gulf between (the 80% of voters) is where the crucial decisions get made – often when non-aligned voters stand in front of a ballot and then take 15 seconds to think about their choice. Sheesh!
    Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party (U.S. North East states) suggests that instead of Left/Right, it is more useful in street-level politics to talk in terms of bottom vs. top. Bill de Blasio (Mayor of NYC) ran as BOTH the Democrat and the Working Families Party candidate. In some US states, candidates can have more than one endorsement. (The campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour is one of their standards – so the bottom vs. top (inequality of pay for work done) makes sense.

  6. Nature has a way of influencing life. Survival of the fittest kinda makes some sense but luck and the environment play a much larger part and can defeat the fittest easily. (….bear with me, I’ll get pertinent in a sec…)

    So, why do we vote as we do? Probably because we are all generally happy with the way things are. The system is thus deemed a fit and naturally successful one even by those who oppose the current managers. And that includes those opposition folks who don’t want to rock the boat too much.

    It is still good enough, anyway, even for them. So the status quo looks good and remains. All life seems to work that way.

    The problem is that only catastrophe changes that way of life. We will roll along the avenue status quo right up to the cliff edge in the vehicle we are in. Some of us will roll over the cliff like the lemmings we are.
    Others may just stop in time and re-think their position on things. Some even re-think as they drive. You re-think. I re-think. Many people re-think.

    But very, very few re-do. They do not change their life. They do not change the system they are part of.

    They system won’t change that way and no PART of the system will change either.

    As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Don’t vote. Don’t encourage the bastards. Just opt out of THEIR system and make the changes you want. THAT’s a revolution.

    • My constant refrain that we should all just ‘bow out of the system’, the system that does not work for any but the elite 1%, does not seem to resonate. So, I’ll stop.
      As much as I can, anyway.

      We, the newly reformed ex-urbanites are all the more ardent and zealous about it, you know. And I will always say, “Get out! Get out NOW!” But, if that is not gonna influence anyone then I will go to plan B.

      Voting Conservative does not mean conservative. Voting Liberal does NOT mean liberal. They are just brand names, not philosophies. It’s just marketing.

      And those labels are better branding than the Fascists, the Bigots, the Corrupt or the Incompetents. No one likes the truth of their product in advertising. Especially the politicians. So, those liars go with the labels Conservatives and Liberals. They are lying from the moment they open their mouths.

      And, God knows the NDP are not NEW in any way! Plan B is simple: vote GREEN. We are all gonna have to eventually.

      GREEN is the party that tries to keep the other bastards honest and they are failing at that ’cause there are not enough of them. Vote GREEN and give life as we need it a chance.

  7. Laila , I think you’ve summed up how the silent majority are voting.
    Unlike our parents who voted for one party their entire lives we are voting for fiscal conservatives one election and environmentalists the next. What ever the “problem of the day” is….We vote for it.
    Political parties have caught on and have become excellent at generating simplistic, visceral “issues” for us to worry about.
    The main stream media bow down to the almighty advertising dollar and silently cooperate in the propaganda.( Vote “yes” or its gridlock ! No other solutions need be discussed… move along….)
    However, with the past 15 years of the internet and all ideas being voiced without editorial, govt. or corperate censorship………things are changing.
    We are seeing the growth of minority govts all over the world because people are voting with their heads or their hearts. Political allegiances between the right and left, extremists and environmentalists, socialists and anarchists.
    The message any political party tries to “send out”…….Its not so simple anymore
    This is rendering political polls obsolete. And the political status quo obsolete.
    I actually like minority govts. Politicians actually have to cooperate to get Bills passed and avoid another election. Leaders are changed because of disgruntled backbenchers.
    Perhaps the parliamentary rule “majority votes win or call another election” should be tossed out.
    Free votes on major policy changes so that MP’s, MLA’s can vote the way their constituents( You know. The people that actually elected them!) want them to.
    But I digress.
    In past federal elections I have voted Conservative(Harper) or Liberal(Cretien) or NDP(Broadbent).depending on their platform(and my age) at the time.
    This time? Harper? Ugh. Trudeau? Ugh. Mulcair ….maybe.
    My prediction? Prepare for a Federal Conservative minority govt in the Fall, in Canada.
    And if that happens…. wait for the knives to come out to finally rid the Conservative(Reform) party of its control freak leader Stephen Harper once and for all. A win win.

    And count me on the “No” side of Translink’s latest fear mongering request for money

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