This time last year, I will confess, I wasn’t feeling so hot. A maniac had just taken over the White House, reverberations from Brexit were echoing around the globe, and neo-Nazis were building momentum throughout Europe.
As 2017 dawned, it felt like the forces of dangerous far-right bigotry were on the march everywhere.
But if the past twelve months showed that politics can get ugly in unexpected ways, it also showed that the majority of people won’t stand for hate.
In 2017, progressive politics came roaring back with a vengeance.
The year was book-ended with incredible and inspiring feminist activism, the Women’s March in January and the #MeToo movement, named by Time Magazine as the “Person of the Year.”
Well-organized and energetic social movements like Black Lives Matter and $15 and Fairness made impressive gains for social and economic justice.
In response to the horrific shooting spree at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Québec City by a white supremacist gunman who professed admiration for Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump, solidarity marches spontaneously erupted across the country. Our family will long remember the huge and impressive march to our neighbourhood mosque that came together within a matter of hours.
Electorally, wonderful, spectacular victories were celebrated in both the East and the West.
John Horgan’s BC New Democratic Party took power with an innovative alliance with the Green Party, ending a 16-year conservative regime and immediately ushering in significant new progressive policies like a ban on corporate and union contributions to political parties.
Despite well-funded and aggressive conservative campaigns, progressives like Naheed Nenshi were re-elected in Alberta’s municipal elections. Turns out even the “cradle of Canadian conservatism” isn’t so conservative anymore!
And in Montréal, a little-known first-term Councillor (and Broadbent Institute Board member) named Valérie Plante and her Projet Montréal team came from out of nowhere to romp to a strong majority government.
On the national stage, Jagmeet Singh won a convincing first-ballot victory to become the 8th Leader of the federal New Democratic Party, and the first racialized leader of a major federal political party in the country’s history.
At the Broadbent Institute, we worked tirelessly and with great success throughout the year.
Our PressProgress media project picked up hundreds of thousands of new readers, and became one of the primary sources for news in the lead-up to, and during, the BC election. Our events — whether our 4th Progress Summit in Ottawa in the spring, or hosting Bernie Sanders at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall in the fall — were over-subscribed and mobbed with enthusiastic crowds.
Whether it was to bolster the case for proportional representation at the national level, to call for a more progressive taxation system, or to clean up Big Money in politics in BC, the Institute’s sophisticated and hard-hitting research and communications efforts had a significant impact shaping the public debate.
Day in and day out, we continued to train and educate thousands of progressive activists in every corner of the country, and embolden them to achieve even greater success in their own communities.
I am so proud of what our hard-working Board and staff do every day, with the support of partners and donors alike. Our beautiful country is the better for it.
Our critical work continues in 2018. Your support of the Institute — by donating, by sharing our stories on your social media feeds, or by putting our research to use in your life and work — means the world to us.
Warmest wishes for the remainder of your holidays, and Happy New Year to you and your family. See you in January!
Rick Smith is Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute.