Monday, May 05, 2008

Good luck with that

The usual suspects were on the front page of the City section of the Free Press today, heading up the recently formed Winnipeg Citizens' Coalition, which describes itself as "a broad-based, progressive, democratic, socially and environmentally conscious collection of individuals."

In spite of such a, um, diverse group, the WCC "recognize that we are more likely to effect change in our city when we work together. Hence the coalition.

(Left-wing civic group plans first meeting - WFP)

While socialism is a spectre that indeed haunts the city and province (if it doesn't bury it alive), the longest-running of all leftist traditions in Winnipeg continues to be the inability to coalesce (or to remain coalesced for any lenght of time) to to actually be effective.

Even at the height of the General Strike of 1919, when the strikers literally controlled the city, they just couldn't keep it together. They squabbled along ideological and ethnic lines, and their fragile solidarity was stressed by the overwhelming task of running a city and continuing its production. Power was theirs, but since no one was making food, their brothers and sisters in the North End began to go hungry, and they gave up.

In the civic election of 2004, with the fear of Sam Katz being mayor for another four years, the progressive vote against him was split between two mayoral candidates, representing old and new versions of the left respectively. At mayoral debates, these two candidates squabbled between eachother, while Sam Katz didn't show up. He should have, but he didn't need to--he handily beat even their combined votes with an incredible lack of effort.

In fact, there has been only two successful Labour-backed mayoralty candidates in the city's history: John Queen at the height of the Depression; and Glen Murray in the 1990s--a credit to his skill at being, as someone once described, "a mile wide, but an inch deep."

I have my doubts that this latest cabal of citizens will have better luck. That is, of course, unless they do what the socialist movement has always needed to do to reach its goals of creating that better world: finding a strongman--someone who can get things done.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you mean the 2006, not 2004 civic election.

12:47 PM  

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