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How to save the Canadian left



The left is weak.

It doesn't matter how many orange banners fly at an NDP rally. It doesn't matter how many red flags are raised to support Michael Ignatieff. The Conservatives maintain a stranglehold on the polls and the left-leaning parties pose very little threat.

There's no getting around it. In Canadian politics today, the left is as weak as the port side of the Titanic.

How did it come to this, one wonders? How did one whole side of the political spectrum that used to prop up Prime Ministers and keep the Liberals in power drop off so sharply?

As with everything in politics, there are innumerable reasons.

Stephen Harper is one. With an iron grip on his party, he has forcibly held together a loose coalition of Progressive Conservatives and Reformers, stifled any public dissent against him and, quite successfully, put forth the impression of ideological unity.

The attitude of Canadians is another. Economy remains the top priority for voters despite few people being able to understand it. Environment, foreign policy and culture may figure in some people's minds but they stand a paltry second to job creation and the ability to make a profit.

But there is yet another reason that the left remains so weak, and it's a facet about which something can be done: the lack of a credible, intelligent left wing voice in the mainstream media.

Look at any of the major publications and you'll see precisely what I mean. The Globe and Mail , the National Post , Maclean's .

I'm unconvinced that all commentators for said outlets are all raging, spitting-mad Tories, but writers such as Andrew Coyne, Margaret Wente and Terence Corcoran all regularly pen commentary that while not exactly endorsing Conservative policy certainly help to legitimize it in the public's eye.

These publications do contain commentary that could be considered sympathetic to a left wing perspective. Doug Saunders, the European correspondent for the Globe and Mail , regularly challenges rightward thinking, though one would hardly call him an outright left wing commentator.

Paul Wells at Maclean's , meanwhile, strives hard to be objective, castigating Liberal policy on one hand while taking impertinent shots at the Sun News Network on the other.

These aren't the only voices out there, but I'm a keen observer of the news and they are the only two names that come easily to mind that bring a credible perspective from the left.

Let's look at a list of commentators who might describe themselves as speaking from the left side of the political spectrum:

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