The Canadian values election

These charts tells us why the NDP is surging. It’s this simple and complex.

They tell us who’s getting the benefits of growth and who isn’t.  The chart shows the really significant trend, which is the accumulation of income and wealth by the top 5% of income earners. These are the real beneficiaries of the last decade. Most everyone else has got by or lost ground.

In fact, the almost depression of 2008 made the the growing disparity worse.

The simple fact is that a majority of Canadians – after two decades of growth – are no better off. The ideological combination of service cuts, tax cuts and deregulation has combined to skew benefits towards the top twenty percent.

Add, on top of that, a move towards regressive user based taxes and fees and it is not hard to see how the gulf between ordinary people and the elite has grown so much, so fast.

We’re finally having an election about this, sort of. Or at least an election about this is emerging from the one that got called four weeks ago.

The election that got called was about politics – at least that’s what the pundits told us. It was about whether Harper could get his majority. About whether Ignatieff could overcome the Tory branding and connect with people. It was about names and faces and strategies. But it wasn’t about people, our nation and where it could go and should go.

Canada isn’t the States. The values that underlie the changes in income distribution in the chart above aren’t majority values in this country. And the thing about the NDP campaign this time is that it is the only campaign that is speaking to mainstream Canadian values.

Harper has his 40%, plus or minus 5%. And he’s talking to them and only them. Ignatieff, on the other hand, is bouncing from theme to theme, in a mix of Charlie Sheen like fear and bravado. It truly is a campaign about the Liberal Party and the mess they’ve made of themselves since Chretien.

And Layton talks about ordinary folks and what they need and want and aren’t getting. It’s a pretty moderate vision – ordinary Canadians aren’t revolutionaries. There’s healthcare, there’s better services. There’s the environment. Above all, there’s a fundamental play towards balance. The attack on the corporate tax breaks is central to this idea of balance.

The punditry, lost in the game or ideology, missed this. They missed how consistent and solid Layton’s been in offering a mainstream vision that speaks to majority values in our country. The NDP is running a traditional Liberal campaign on social democratic values.

One last chart from yesterday’s Ekos poll underlines the appeal of the kind of campaign Layton and the NDP are running this time.

The headline on the Ekos poll was all about the surge – NDP solid in second place at 28, the Liberals back in third place. And the stories were all about wild seat projections and speculation about various minority government options. But buried in the Ekos report is this chart that reports both first and second choices in the election.

Only one party is being considered by a majority of Canadians at this point in the election: Jack Layton and the NDP.  Astonishing in what it tells us about our country and who we really are.

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