Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality by Ed Broadbent and others

Readers seeking a comprehensive overview of the philosophies and achievements of former New Democratic Party leader and long-time advocate of social democracy Ed Broadbent will find Seeking Social Democracy: Seven Decades in the Fight for Equality a good place to start. Written by Ed Broadbent, along with Frances Abele, Jonathan Sas, and Luke Savage, Seeking Social Democracy employs a unique format. Each chapter begins with a section written by Broadbent. The themes discussed are then amplified and clarified in question-and-answer format with the other authors asking questions, and Broadbent answering them. This format breaks the subject matter up into digestible segments, while at the same time allowing for emphasis and exploration of specific points.

“Reading Seeking Social Democracy gave me a deeper respect for the scope of Broadbent’s achievements and a better understanding of his beliefs and philosophies.”

The book follows Broadbent’s career, taking into account the factors that influenced his beliefs about politics and social democracy, his years with the NDP including his time as leader of the party, and his other activities, such as his work with the international socialist movement and with Canada’s Rights and Democracy organization.

Broadbent, who was a professor at York University prior to his first run for Parliament, writes clearly, with a humble and matter-of-fact tone. He expands on topics like feminism, racism, indigenous rights, free trade, workers’ rights, and industrial democracy, and comments on shifts in political philosophies both in Canada and abroad. Broadbent also provides candid perceptions of influential people he encountered in the course of his career, including Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Fidel Castro, Willy Brandt, and Robert Stanfield, making observations that are sometimes critical and sometimes complimentary but always seem to be delivered without malice. Broadbent offers insight into important events in Canadian history, such as the development of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the foundation of Petro-Canada, and expands on his views about the differences between social democracy and liberalism.

In the book’s introduction, Luke Savage notes that as a result of his early influences, Broadbent “inherited the progressive disposition of a generation fortunate enough to come of age during a period of rising prosperity and increasingly restless democratic ambition.” Savage adds that Broadbent’s convictions have remained consistent throughout his life. In the book’s final chapter, Broadbent states, “I have spent the last twenty-five years continuing to advocate what the great Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman once called the ‘grey ideology’ of social democracy.” Broadbent remains convinced that social democracy is “the form with the greatest potential, no more, no less, for liberating the creative, cooperative, and compassionate possibilities of humanity, and offering dignity to all.”

Prior to reading Seeking Social Democracy, I did not know much about Broadbent aside from the fact that he had been the leader of the NDP. I was impressed by the range of Broadbent’s involvement in the movement for social democracy, and his broad-based knowledge in many fields, including philosophy, history, and political theory. Reading Seeking Social Democracy gave me a deeper respect for the scope of Broadbent’s achievements and a better understanding of his beliefs and philosophies.

Seeking Social Democracy includes 16 pages of photos, printed on glossy paper. There are also extensive chapter notes, and a comprehensive index. The Appendices include a variety of material, including a lecture Broadbent gave at York University about the nature of political theory, a memorandum he wrote about industrial democracy, and a tribute to David Lewis.

About the Author

Ed Broadbent PC CC was the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party from 1975 to 1989 and a member of Parliament for Oshawa (1968–1990) and Ottawa Centre (2004–2006). Before his entry into politics, he taught political theory at York University. He is the editor of Democratic Inequality: What Went Wrong? and a frequent author of newspaper and magazine opinion articles.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ ECW Press (Oct. 10 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 328 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1770417389
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1770417380