Please watch the short political fable below expressing the CCF’s view that the Canadian political system was flawed in offering voters a false dilemma: the choice of two parties, neither of which represented their interests.
BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE!
EVERY. VOTE. COUNTS.
The Story of Mouseland was a story told first by Clarence Gillis, and later and most famously by Tommy Douglas, leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and, later, the New Democratic Party of Canada, both social democratic parties.
The mice voted in black cats, which represented the Progressive Conservative Party, and then they found out how hard life was. Then they voted in the white cats, which symbolized the Liberal Party. The story goes on, and a mouse gets an idea that mice should run their government, not the cats. This mouse was accused of being a Bolshevik, and imprisoned. However, the speech concludes by saying you can lock up a mouse or a person, but you cannot lock up an idea.
A variation of this story is told in Douglas Adams’ novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, involving a democracy where people vote for lizards as their leaders. No one is happy with this situation, except for the lizards, but the people continue voting for the lizards “because if they didn’t vote for a lizard… the wrong lizard might get in.”
In 2006, Brad Wall, Leader of the Saskatchewan Party, the opposition party in Saskatchewan, parodied Mouseland, a place in which the mice govern as destructive creatures, as an attack on the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.
This is a short video by the UFCW about Canadian politics
– as told by Tommy Douglas
The Moral of the Story “Mouseland” is a political fable, originally told by Clare Gillis, a friend of Tommy Douglas. Tommy has used this story many times to show in a humorous way how Canadians fail to recognize that neither the Liberals or Conservatives are truly interested in what matters to ordinary citizens; yet Canadians continue to vote for them.
The story cleverly deals with the false assumption by some people that CCF’ers (NDP’ers) are Communists. The ending shows Tommy Douglas has faith that someday socialism, which recognizes human rights and dignity, will win over capitalism and the mere pursuit of wealth and power.
It’s the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.
They even had a Parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.
Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for last 90 years and maybe you’ll see that they weren’t any stupider than we are.
Now I’m not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws–that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren’t very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouseholes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds–so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.
All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn’t put up with it any more, they decided something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.
Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: “All that Mouseland needs is more vision.” They said: “The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouseholes we got. If you put us in we’ll establish square mouseholes.” And they did. And the square mouseholes were twice as big as the round mouseholes, and now the cat could get both his paws in. And life was tougher than ever.
And when they couldn’t take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black ones in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black cats and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.
You see, my friends, the trouble wasn’t with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.
Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, “Look fellows, why do we keep on electing a government made up of cats? Why don’t we elect a government made up of mice?” “Oh,” they said, “he’s a Bolshevik. Lock him up!” So they put him in jail.
But I want to remind you: that you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can’t lock up an idea.