November 23, 1999
In Coversation with... Ujjal Dosanjh - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - If Ujjal Dosanjh were the minister of fads and catchphrases of the day, the words “dialogue” and “consensus” would be added to our collective lexicon.
With the Attorney General’s visit to our classroom on Monday, Mr. Dosanjh side-stepped a lot of important issues, some which he directly directed blame to other government bodies; such as Mayor Owen with regards to the Downtown Eastside debacle or the Feds, with regards to the economy or immigration. As a master politician in the game for attracting votes and good sound bites, Mr. Dosanjh did his party some credit as he carefully, almost purposefully ‘spinned’ some very serious problems, giving them the dignity of the generic answer. He’s a brilliant politician, and to become brilliant you have to master that art well.
I found him quite sincere. I think there’s no one more sincere in the party, the province for that matter. Mr. Dosanjh placed himself forward as a person with an extremely compassionate social sense. I think he represents the NDP at its roots or at its historical mandate. While Corky Evans claims to be the grassroots man up for the job, he’s become tainted with Glen Clark, and is often, lumped with the Sihota and Barrett “toxic trio”. Dosanjh admitted that the party was not the party he joined 30 years ago, and there are reasons for that. Mike Harcourt represented real left-wing ideals. Then after his ‘bullet for the party’, Glen Clark an ideal man to represent those same interests, turned into that reckless manager of mismanagement that he’ll not soon be forgotten as. At the root of it though, the problem I have with Mr. Dosanjh’s bid, is that the party that he envisions is the same party that will run this province’s finances with the dreaded “tax and spend” mentality. According to most British Columbian’s, the economy is the biggest issue, but I can’t see where that mentality and that sentiment comes to some sort middle ground.
The left-wing in this country is often misunderstood, it is that misunderstanding that is at the root of their lack of success in winning elections. If Dosanjh feels that this is the party he wants, he’ll have a hell of a time selling that to the people of this province who feel that money is the most important thing in life. Globalization and e-commerce is reality and people within the party fail to see that, and that’ll hurt them in the polls. If the party is to survive it must accept the reality of the modern world and drop this rather outdated protest mongering that did them so well in the Socred times. Even some of the staunch NDP supporters of the past, unions and the sort have felt alienated.
The NDP supporter in me, wants Bill Vander Zalm to succeed in the Delta-South by-election. His success will only improve the NDP’s chances in a future general election. Reform BC, as Mr. Dosanjh admitted is a protest party and I think they’ll steal some very important votes across the province. It’ll also show the utter oblivion of Gordon Campbell and The Liberals as they have failed to change that God-awful name, thus making them less prone to attract important support in the North and Eastern parts of the Province. I was amazed at the “fuddle duddle” (he’s an admirer of Trudeau), he was trying to wade through regarding his handling of the Clark affair. It provoked me to query him on the office of the AG and whether it belonged in cabinet as an “independent” and non-party affiliated position. I think it should be separate, and the Honourable Member for Vancouver Kensington disagreed saying that no accountability would derive from an appointed position. I didn’t buy that, and the AG and I totally disagree. In private as we walked downstairs, he did say he felt it was a tough bind to be in, in particular the decisions he made with regards to the Glen Clark matter. Which, incidentally he said he refuses to state publicly.
I heard a lot of rhetoric spewed. For his sake, I hope the average British Columbian voter can wade throughout the, “Well, I hope the public can weigh in to the debate so we can achieve a consensus.,” or the, “It is imperative in a democratic society that we use and maintain a positive dialogue on all the issues that concern us,” and decide if they want another term from the NDP. The questions lobbed at him were fair, some quite thought-provoking on both our parts, and a terrific insight into the governance and systems that run our province. But in complete honesty, Moe Sihota is better at creating nifty catchphrases, because sooner or later this NDP administration will have faded.
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