|February 24, 2006
The Hargrove expulsion: A wrong-headed move Layton needs to fix
|Images of Buzz Hargrove embracing Paul Martin and giving him a Canadian Auto Workers' jacket to the cheers of thousands of union
members danced in the eyes of the illuminati of the NDP who recently met in solemn conclave.
They decided to expel Buzz Hargrove from the party for urging members to vote strategically to stop the anti-labour Tories. NDP
purists were outraged by the tactic. "Buzz off! Buzz off!" New Democrats chanted at rallies for candidates who had no hope of winning.
The conclave had all the earmarks of a heresy trial. Hargrove was not consulted. The NDP illuminati were prepared to see an end to
the money and volunteers CAW had been giving to the party for years.
All the party purists wanted was revenge on Hargrove. He was supposed to be the pound of flesh.
The expulsion reminds me of the early days of the NDP, when it would hold heresy trials to root out Trotskyites and Communists who
tried to infiltrate the party. The NDP did not play by the Queensbury Rules then and it is certainly not playing by them with Hargrove.
The expulsion reflects the tensions inside the party. Election 2006 was not the piece of cake that leader Jack Layton dreamed it
would be. The party increased its seats but was also a major factor in creating the Tory victory.
The NDP is dissatisfied with not holding the balance of power and is blaming Hargrove's call for strategic voting.
The union leader said only strategic voting in favour of the Liberals could stop the anti-labour Tories. He even argued that it was right
to vote for the pro-labour Bloc Québécois instead of the anti-union Tories.
Hargrove remains adamant that, expulsion or not, he will continue the same tactics in the next election. He is not asking for any
favours from Layton. It was his union that played a major role in Layton's winning the party leadership in the first place.
Hargrove's expulsion seems to have come as a bit of a shock to Layton. Still, he knows his rank-and-file members well and can
hardly be surprised by their puritan dogmatism vis-à-vis Hargrove.
Buzz Hargrove and Jack Layton come at politics from very distinct points of view. Layton believes the Liberals are his real enemy and
he hates them far more than he hates Harper. Hargrove hates only Harper and his pals Preston Manning and Mike Harris.
Layton joined the Tories in defeating the Liberals and bringing the government down. He joined with anti-labour Harper in his
corruption crusade against the Liberals. And in the election campaign, he continued to hammer Martin's Liberals day in and day out
He played the corruption card constantly – against the advice of some of the NDP's best thinkers. Former Waffle leader and York
University professor James Laxer told Layton that corruption was a Tory game. By joining in, Layton was only helping to elect an anti-
labour antisocialist Tory government.
Hargrove disagreed strongly with Layton on strategy. He believed there was a difference between the Liberals and the Tories on
socialist and labour matters. Hargrove's union had helped elect Herb Gray as a Liberal MP in Windsor many times.
Hargrove believed that Layton could ignore the Gomery scandal and continue to work with the Liberals to get more concessions to the
left. He believed Martin and the Liberals were more pro-labour than Harper and his anti-union friends Manning and Harris.
Harris symbolized the Tories for Hargrove. It was Harris, as Ontario premier, who cancelled the anti-scab and pro-labour legislation
of Bob Rae's NDP government. Hargrove felt it was anathema for Layton to be in bed with Harris and the Harperites.
For 40 years, Hargrove has been a labour statesman in the NDP. The CAW is the biggest private sector labour organization in the
party, which was created as a coalition of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and such unions as the Steelworkers, the
CAW and the Canadian Food and Allied Workers.
David Lewis brought the CCF and his union labour clients together in the New Democratic Party. It was Lewis who felt there was a
difference between the Liberals and the Tories, even the red Tories of Robert Stanfield and Dalton Camp.
Lewis, who became NDP leader in 1971, chose to prop up the Liberals in the minority government of 1972 rather than support the red
Tories. To Lewis and the labour leaders, the Tories – red or not – were consistent enemies of labour.
All Hargrove was doing was promoting the voices of labour. Now he sees three hated Harris ministers in Harper's government.
His expulsion from the NDP is not backed by Layton. Still, the party leader is a bit vague about what to do about it.
Layton needs Hargrove and should recognize that Harper is right of the Liberals. The Liberals are more progressive and small 'l'
liberal than the Tories.
Layton should also do all in his power to get Hargrove reinstated: He needs Hargrove fighting on his side. The Hargrove expulsion is
wrong and dumb-handed. The NDP has shot itself in the foot.
Only Layton can heal the party's wounds.
Source: Larry Zolf for CBC News Viewpoint