Are you a politically progressive person?
April 8, 2016 7:31 PM   Subscribe

What does 'Progressive' mean in Canadian Politics?

The word 'progressive' is bandied about in Canadian politics lately. The word was only used in the past with the progressive conservatives (PC) party. Now it seems that you can be a progressive NDP or a progressive LIBERAL.
What does it mean to be a progressive? If you are not a progressive person then are you a regressive person?
What does it mean to be a progressive?
posted by Kilovolt to Law & Government (8 answers total)
The general opposite of progressive is conservative. I suspect the emergence of the term progressive has to do with: the Harperite Reformer faction eliminating all the progressive aspects of the old PCs; the emergence and strengthening of multiple left wing parties (making the term more useful); the NDP and Liberals converging in policy this past federal election; the vagaries of provincial politics (e.g. in BC a Liberal is actually a conservative); and the Stop Harper phenomenon uniting progressives of multiple parties.

Progressives are on the left of the political spectrum; I think the most generic concept is that the government can usually be a positive, valuable way of helping society - this leads to the general belief that tax money is usually well spent, that government programs like welfare tend to do more good than harm, that the government can helpfully regulate corporate excess. In terms of opposing conservatives, another key view is generally that less traditional ways of doing things are OK, whether it's acceptance of LGBT rights, or immigrants of different cultures and races; as well as less blind acceptance of traditional authority, whether religious, monarchy, the police, etc.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:18 PM on April 8, 2016

suspect the emergence of the term progressive has to do with: the Harperite Reformer faction eliminating all the progressive aspects of the old PCs

Except that the Progressive Party of Canada dates back to the 1920s. It's difficult to discern exactly what it was "for" except the Wikipedia article stresses that there were farmers’ parties that were in favour of free trade with the United States.

The Wikipedia on Progressivism may be interesting in this context.
posted by zadcat at 9:17 PM on April 8, 2016

As zadcat says, "Progressivism" was a political movement in Canada that dates back to the 1920's; its descendents would be derisively called "Red Tories" nowadays. Interestingly there is some talk of the Conservative Party splitting up if a Red Tory like Peter McKay (more of a nincompoop than anything else, but not a troglodyte Reform-Conservative, at least) assumes control of the party.

I hadn't heard the term "progressive" used in a left-wing or social democrat context in Canada—I thought it was more of an Americanism, just like Liberalism in Canada is a different beast than liberalism in the United States (although similar to liberalism in the UK as personified by the pre-Coalition Lib Dems).

Instead of "progessive" here on the Left Coast (I live on Vancouver Island, an NDP bastion—we have done our job in two elections now voting Orange) the term most commonly used is "Lefty", not progressive.

I certainly hope that "progressive" doesn't become a common term in Canada because we are not Americans and we have our own political calculus. On the other hand, the Trudeau Liberals have definitely campaigned to the left, and with their deficits and somewhat incoherent economic policy so far certainly resemble a "progressive" NDP government.

I've heard that the Trudeau Liberals are planning on becoming a "movement", much like the NDP, so maybe the term "progressive" will be popularized over the next few years.

But in my mind "progressive" is an American term, or perhaps is a term used on university campuses in Canada.
posted by My Dad at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure Red Tory is as derisive in Ontario. I find it used in Toronto and Montreal to mean angry at the ndp for moving to the center, and depending on how far you move, dissatisifed to contempous of party politics in general. The people I know who think of themselves as progressive kind of find themselves unthethered. (But not the Anarchists, who think of progressive as a shading of neo-liberalism, however Montreal Anarchists are not mainstream)
posted by PinkMoose at 10:33 PM on April 8, 2016

It's something I associate with American left-of-centre (or maybe centre, depending on your relative position on the political spectrum) politics, as something that was picked up as sort of an alternative branding to "old-fashioned" leftist political labels... my assumption if I heard it in Canada would be that it's migrated over from the U.S. and means basically the same thing. Especially meaning not socially conservative.
posted by scribbler at 11:08 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think, given the rightward lean of politics in general, a "progressive liberal" today is just what a regular liberal was 30-40 years ago.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:39 AM on April 9, 2016

Canadian society is progressive as a whole. PC stands for Progressive Conservative.
posted by GiveUpNed at 10:28 PM on April 9, 2016

Honestly, it means nothing. It's an ideological void. Be suspicious of people who use this term.
posted by Kurichina at 9:50 AM on April 11, 2016

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