“We’re NDP this morning”

Posted on: September 24, 2008

The web page of the New Democrats is enough alone to inspire me to vote for them. The page has a faller on the front- not a model or actor, but a real faller with a real chain saw slung over his shoulder, the blade with its stilled, but dangerously sharp edges ignored as the faller walks through the bush to another tree. As the son of a British Columbia faller, I am touched.

Canadians are prone to make significant decisions for sentimental reasons, and for evidence of same, I am reminded of another story. Future Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, when a young lawyer, was defending his first murder case. The jury retired to deliberate. The young lawyer did a good job, said one juror. Yes, and it’s his birthday, too, said another juror. Yet another juror said later, “That did it. We voted for aquittal.”

I have not voted New Democrat since the early 1970s, and then in British Columbia provincial politics only, when it was either Social Credit (hiss, boo) or New Democrat (cheers). The Social Credit Party was lead by W.A.C Bennett, of a hardware-store owning family in Kelowna. Bennett was as jut-jawed as Jay Leno, and as confident as a carnival barker. He led the province for 20 years, calling himself B.C.’s Prime Minister ( we usually reserve the title Premier for provincial heads, prime minister for our national leader) and was the finance minister to boot. Coming to power in the early 1950s, roads needed to be built through the mountainous province, and the Social Credit did so. Common were the “Sorry for the Inconvenience” signs as the province built its highways. A grateful citizenry reelected the free enterprise social crediters until 1972.

The Libby Dam was coming. My grandfather’s farm on the Kootenay River was passed on into the hands of my Uncle Bob but the American dam would flood out some of the best farmland in British Columbia, the family farm included. The whole valley was none to happy about the coming rising water.

My Uncle got his photograph on the front page of the Fernie Free Press leaning over his broken fence after some B.C. government workers were caught by him tearing it down. My grandmother- its hard to imagine her doing this- took the keys from the government truck so the pair could not get away while Uncle Bob, young, tall and strong, and with no sense of humour when it came to losing the family farm to an American dam, laid a licking on the pair until they were finally, and mercifully, given their keys back. They never returned.

When the election of 1972 came around the reputation of W.A.C Bennett was as low as it could get around what was called the South Country, whatever he was thought of elsewhere. The discussions around the dinner table in those days etched my young mind with impressions that have not since been erased: government is not to be trusted and they are always, always, always, to be held accountable.

I remember going into a cafe in Wardner after we had completed the first leg of a two-day cattle drive from Uncle Bob’s new ranch.The family farm was gone by then. I worked for Uncle Bob that summer, one of the most memorable summers of my life. I still remember us coming in for lunch, about eight of us, to the greeting, “I thought you were on a drive” and the answer from one of our own: “It doesn’t take us all day to do half a day’s work.” Then a waitress told us we had missed the sight of W.A.C Bennett’s car going by on the highway with motorcycle escort. “He needs one around here,” said a cowboy before ordering his meal.

British Columbia voted New Democrat that year, ending 20 years of Social Credit rule. I got up the morning after the election to sit across from Uncle Bob already at the breakfast table. I was too young to vote at that time. “What were the results?” I asked. “We’re NDP this morning,” he said, and my grandmother, not a socialist, retorted, “That’s just as bad.”

Back then it was a choice between the free enterprisers or the socialists. British Columbia allowed the NDP three years then voted in the Social Credit again, led by W.A.C Bennett’s son Bill, who governed the province for another 11 years, making ruling British Columbia a family dynasty far better known than their Kelowna hardware store.

Thank you for reading AardvarkCola


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  • wordbeeps: No, he doesn't deserve an apology. Who tweets during a funeral? If you do, expect feedback. I didn't say the mourners were faking it. I think they we
  • Holly Stick: Look you fuckwit, are you too stupid to realise that Ghomeshi was an actual friend of Layton's, when you tweeted to him that the mourners were faking
  • aardvarkcola: Thank you. I see the rest of your message now. i'm honoured to to have your words on my blog. That alone is a delight. Lawrence


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