John Gormley’s Left Out is a book Senator Pamela Wallin hails as "…a most reasoned rant and a potent piece of political history…a must read. It’s a powerful call to action and a reminder for both the governed and those who seek to lead them—that playing small serves no one.” This is the story, Wallin says, “of Saskatchewan becoming a place where hope really does beat fearJohn Gormley’s Left Out is a book Senator Pamela Wallin hails as "…a most reasoned rant and a potent piece of political history…a must read. It’s a powerful call to action and a reminder for both the governed and those who seek to lead them—that playing small serves no one.” This is the story, Wallin says, “of Saskatchewan becoming a place where hope really does beat fear and where today, any party that claims moral superiority rather than a better idea does so at its peril."
Edgy and thought-provoking, Left Out takes aim at the NDP, SK's natural governing party since the 1940s. Outspoken broadcaster and writer JG pulls no punches in an entertaining and informative rant that is as much a lament as a call to action on Saskatchewan politics. From the hundreds of thousands of people who fled the province to Saskatchewan’s decline in influence, Gormley pins this and more on successive NDP governments, particularly the Calvert NDP of the early 2000s. With a keen political insider’s eye, Gormley analyzes the elections of 2003 and 2007, Saskatchewan ’s finances and nearly a dozen political scandals which rocked the province in the early 2000s. The book also features an engaging and funny prescription for fixing Saskatchewan ’s historic bad attitude and leaves no one unscathed, from powerful union leaders to a business community that often allows its own victimization at the hands of the political left. Left Out challenges all of us to re-engage in politics for the sake of our Saskatchewan . The book will appeal especially to political junkies who love the chatter on coffee row, and the whispers in the halls of the Saskatchewan Legislature...more
John Gormley’s “Left Out” is largely designed to persuade Saskatchewan citizens to embrace a base level of traditional conservatism and is aimed primarily at citizens who lack a broad understanding of politics and how Canadian politics has evolved during the last 30 years.
For example, Gormley attempts to fit the modern NDP and SK party into the confines of the traditional political spectrum that no longer exists in that it is no longer useful for describing policy differences between political pJohn Gormley’s “Left Out” is largely designed to persuade Saskatchewan citizens to embrace a base level of traditional conservatism and is aimed primarily at citizens who lack a broad understanding of politics and how Canadian politics has evolved during the last 30 years.
For example, Gormley attempts to fit the modern NDP and SK party into the confines of the traditional political spectrum that no longer exists in that it is no longer useful for describing policy differences between political parties. By extension, Gormley fails to acknowledge the extent to which the policy platforms of all Western parties have merged, the primary differences being how parties organize and market themselves and choose among a limited set of policy options. It is almost as if Gormley could never get past the paradigms established by Reagan and Thatcher and chose to willfully ignore the stark implications that resulted from their tenure.
For one, Gormley doesn’t seem to grasp the implications that result from quasi-privatizing the provision structures of common goods (the organizational structures responsible for providing public education, for example.). For two, Gormley routinely infers that the labour lobby continues to hold power relative to the business lobby (both big and small) which is entirely false. Gormley bases this claim on the notion that all unions have the same interests and thereby find it easier to gain consensus between interest groups, and thereby clout, when compared with a divided business lobby. Yet I can’t think of any business whether large or small that doesn’t lobby, or support in principle, a desire for lower taxes, less regulation and more privatization. In other words, business, like labour, has harmonized interests, and lobby accordingly, the primary difference being, who has more resources; owners or workers?
Beyond Gormley’s outdated understanding of political definitions, foundations and how these apply to the provincial political phenomena he currently observes, his book is mostly an exaggerative critique of the NDP with a particular focus on the Lorne Calvert administration. Perhaps Gormley’s lamest claim is that the NDP’s greatest strength is their ability to win elections at any cost. The inference made is that Saskatchewan citizens have been routinely duped into believing false election promises as if they are that stupid. Or, have the NDP won elections because many Saskatchewan people hold beliefs other than his own?
Gormley also accuses the NDP of engaging in dodgy political practices including the use of public money to promote the party, fund attack ads and use creative accounting practices to enhance the perception of balanced budgets. Although I struggle to see how this is any different than the practices currently used by the SK party administration. Equally hypocritical is Gormley’s brag about the SK party’s 40% pay down of provincial debt upon coming to power. How could the SK party pay this down immediately upon coming to power without inheriting an NDP surplus? In brief, the provincial NDP have always practiced fiscal conservatism which is what all modern conservative governments purport to support. But any acknowledgment of this would enhance the NDP’s credibility, which is contrary to Gormley’s declared goal of eradicating the NDP, a blindly ideological pursuit.
Another glaring falsehood was Gormley’s claim that the only lasting contribution the NDP have made to Canada was the introduction of socialized healthcare when almost all of the state programs we now take for granted were initially proposed by the NDP. Eventually, these proposals were adopted by both Liberal and Conservative governments once these parties realized how important these programs were to the lives of ordinary Canadians. In fact, if anything, it was conservative parties that attempted to obstruct the progress of almost every progressive change proposed during the 20th century through fear mongering, hence the term “conservatism”. And yet Gormley continues to maintain that the NDP are all about “fear and loathing”. Social democrats were the first in Canada to recognize the need for a mixed economy to ensure an effective and sustainable provision of both private and public goods, a model that all Western governments eventually adopted, albeit reluctantly.
Perhaps most distracting was Gormley’s attempt to manipulate readers through his use of inflammatory rhetorical language. Unions are routinely described as being “big” and “powerful” even though unions have been declining and losing public policy ground to business for decades. Similarly, union leaders are described as union “brass” or “bosses” even though union leaders often make 50 times less than their private sector counterparts who bear little to no democratic responsibility to their followers. With respect to organizations, Gormley describes the NDP as “sneaky” and the Saskatchewan Labour Federation (SFL) as a “radical left-wing” organization whereas the Fraser Institute is just a “think-tank” as opposed to being the a “radical right-wing think tank” if I were to use John Gormley’s words. And with respect to individuals, Gormley claims many people in the NDP are “brash, loud and tend to exaggerate” and are “bullies” which is an almost amazing claim coming from Gormley.
Gormley also states that the NDP are notorious for intimidating people but never bother with him “because they know how it would end”. But this could also be because they know how it begins. In the book he lists virtually anyone he can think of that he perceives has clout and is even remotely associated with the NDP and slanders them accordingly. Yet if someone returns the favour, as he claims Dwain Lingenfelter has in the past, he sues them.
If I were to give Gormley an ounce of credit for anything it would be for the odd generalized insight he makes regarding the NDP’s seeming unwillingness to meaningfully reinvent the party to meet the needs of Saskatchewan citizens in the 21st century. Gormley also suggested that the NDP drop their self-righteousness and stop basing arguments on moral grounds and start making arguments based on political economy and sound economic decision-making, which is a sensible proposition. But this warning was made and was well articulated years ago by Blakeney, Romanow and MacKinnon long before Gormley took the time to blow it out in unhelpful rough. Regardless, Gormley is also likely correct in stating that the Calvert administration made a mistake in reverting back to the traditionalist and expired 1970s NDP approaches including their lack of strategy to properly encourage and deal with growth which has and will continue to cost them elections until they decide to meaningfully change.
Needless to say, I was quite disappointed with Gormley’s book. Prior to purchase, I was hoping to find a book to counterbalance the views presented in Janice MacKinnon’s “Minding the Public Purse” and the political memoirs of Allan Blakeney, and after asking around, the best I could find was Gormley’s “Left Out” which is lightweight by comparison. The cover is yellow and green, the colours of Saskatchewan’s flag, and the paragraphs are separated by Saskatchewan insignia as if to suggest Gormley is a true patriot, and that if someone believes something other than what he does, then they are not patriotic. I also felt Gormley overplayed his credentials as “an MP, lawyer and journalist” to legitimize his claims, which normally would impress if it weren’t for his book, radio show and his once-a-week articles in the Star Phoenix. The fact he has held and continues to hold such public positions is scary and is a sad reflection on the state of mainstream public discourse. ...more