Who Is Canada’s Bernie Sanders?

As we pivot to a new world, of course, we’ll have to contend with the election of Trump as president.

But it’s not an absolute road block. Yesterday I wrote about how Trump won because he appealed to various populations of disenfranchised people who have been screwed by the political and global economic order.

Honestly, he’s not wrong. Lots of people who voted for him, and millions more, actually have been disenfranchised.

What he also did was serve up some scapegoats who weren’t responsible for the economic disenfranchisement. Plus, Clinton was part of the political and economic disenfranchisement of many, which is why millions were hoping Sanders would win because he also championed the restoration of disenfranchisement, but more progressively than Trump’s path.

Yesterday we also saw Kellie Leitch emboldened by the Trump victory, as someone who espouses his divisive, skapegoating, xenophobic values. She intends to lead the Conservative Party and usher in a Trump kind of Canada. Within hours of his victory, before the sun was even up in most of Canada, she sent out a leadership fundraising email to her old stock Canadian supporters.

And considering the amount of media presence Ann Coulter received in Canada yesterday, we should expect more media tolerance for people like Kevin O’Leary and Ezra Levant.

So today, right now, we need to start looking for Canada’s Sanders. It will not be Mulcair or Trudeau, both of whom are political game players who do not manifest the passion for building a nation that heals political and economic disenfranchisement and builds equity, justice and deeply rich community connections.

Trudeau and Mulcair will be destroyed by xenophobic right wing populism from Leitch or whoever wins the CPC xenophobia sweepstakes.

Sanders spoke to the same kind of political and economic disenfranchisement as Trump did, but his solution was about building up fairness, not blaming people who are even more vulnerable.

So today we need to find someone who can bring the country together instead of dividing it, like Leitch will do, continuing Harper’ s divisive legacy.

We need to find a leader who understands the economically disenfranchised and explore ways of building an economy that works for people, not the global 1%.

We need to commit to equality through society, not skapegoating people who are different. We need to use models like the Leap Manifesto to simultaneously address economic, social, climate and race disparities in the country.

And most difficult, if we are to pivot to a new, better Canada, we need to talk with the old stock Canadians and those who are drawn to Leitch’s dog whistle politics. These people are also contending with losing their white and male entitlements in an increasingly different Canada. They need to be part of a conversation about what a new Canada looks like. It won’t be run by white men and we need to assuage their fears of losing their unjust entitlements.

And we need a leader who embodies all this passion. We’re already starting a list of contenders: Andrew Cash, Romeo Saganash, Megan Leslie, Charlie Angus, Nathan Cullen, Linda McQuaig, Pam Palmater, Cindy Blackstock, Naomi Klein, Avi Lewis.

Who do you think can be this leader?


About stephen elliott~buckley 113 Articles
Husband, father. Post-partisan eco-socialist. Political scientist, researcher, consultant, speaker, facilitator, editorialist. #PostCarbonEnergyInfrastructure, #ClimateHope, #Feminism.


  1. Linda McQuaig would be the idea leader of the NDP. Like Bernie Sanders, she has been speaking out against these failed neoliberal reforms for decades. It’s in all her books. She has been telling this story since Mulroney came to power and brought the Friedmanian era to Canada. She is charismatic and Canadians love her.

    The best way to communicate a vision to voters is with a story. Linda knows the story and she knows how to tell it. She could thrash both the Neo-Conservatives and Neo-Liberals. The best way to win an election is to build a movement. Linda knows that the people are eager to be led in a movement to restore the Progressive New Deal Era that began with FDR and was ended by Reagan and Mulroney.

    • Certainly a contender.

      The thing about restoring, is that it is really hard to undue policy and legislation. Just going back to what we had before requires unsaying said things, as it were. We need to build a new economy for people that covers the same principles from before neoliberalism but addresses the social and economic conditions we have now, to bring us to a new good place.

  2. How about another Tommy Douglas or Ed Broadbent or Stephen Lewis. No need to look to Merika for leaders to emulate. Just sayin.

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