South Dundas - March 26, 2012 - I watched one entire hour of the NDP Leadership
Convention this weekend, the most important and the final hour. While
watching on CBC Newsworld, I also followed along on Twitter what
people were saying about the convention and even the media coverage.
The event was rather disjointed in my view, and a bit concerning.
First let me start with saying that I am really happy with the
results. Seeing someone like Thomas Mulcair win the NDP Leadership
cements in my mind that the NDP "Orange Crush" in Quebec really is/was
a flash in the pan and in 2015 you will see diminished returns for the
NDP. Mulcair is not known to be a consensus builder and has a
reputation of being a bear where ever he goes. This was confirmed by
many of the media people swooning over his election Saturday night.
The NDP are a party that was and still is building outside of Quebec.
You cannot build and grow by having a bear trample all over the place.
Mulcair's first interviews after winning was in French. Most of his
lecture, er I mean speech, was in French. To this observer, that tells
me that Mulcair is Quebec-first. I don't care what province you come
from, if the winner was from BC, Newfoundland or Ontario, but a leader
of a national party should be Canada-first and therefore should have
had a speech equally in both languages. Mulcair will pander to those
soft-nationalists in Quebec who believe that they are entitled to more
than the rest of Canada based strictly on linguistic values. That will
diminish the NDP's relevance in the rest of Canada and turn the NDP
into an orange-coloured version of the Bloc Québécois. Workers and
volunteers for the NDP in Quebec are also working on campaigns for the
Québec Solidaire, a separatist provincial party.
His comment about bringing "the center to us" instead of bringing the
party to the center, plays well in Quebec where there are four
"center-left" parties and politics is divided based on sovereignty
issues, not left-right politics. Outside of Quebec however, whatever
party can appeal to the center wins, damn any ideology.
Mulcair isn't a socialist, he's a small-l liberal. He was part of the
Charest Liberal-government and even looked at joining the
Conservatives federally before joining the NDP. Mulcair does not
firmly believe in the tenants of the NDP constitution and its founding
principles. Don't think for a moment that Mulcair is going to stand up
for the more left-wing policies of the NDP. Sure Muclair likes the
environment and rails on that whipping-post of the left, the Alberta
Oil Sands, but don't think that he will sacrifice votes over a
left-wing principle. Mulcair is in it to win for Mulcair, not the NDP.
The exodus from the office of the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal
Opposition doesn't mean much, as those departing were not part of the
winning team of Mulcair. It does speak to the talent that will be
going away with his win. The very architects behind Jack Layton's win
in 2011 are going, will Mulcair be able to replace them and get the
same or better results next time? I don't think so.
If Mulcair is not careful, he will succeed in undoing the work of Jack
Layton and Ed Broadbent, and completely fragmenting the NDP. I
suspect he wont be careful and that this WILL happen.
Mulcair is passionate about the things HE believes in. He is an
emotional person who reacts first and thinks second. Un-checked this
will hurt rather than help him. As such, the next three years of
Question Period is going to be very interesting and entertaining. I
for one look forward to Mulcair's call to see the Osama bin Laden
photos, nice to have that mystery solved.
If I were the brain-trust within the Liberal Party of Canada, I'd be
pushing for a leadership convention in the fall of 2012 and start
throwing everything they have at Mulcair now. Mulcair may well be the
best thing to ever be handed to a rebuilding Liberal Party.
Some other thoughts
- Not one Canadian flag was on stage at the crowning of Mulcair
Saturday night. None. Odd for a national leader not to have a national
flag with him.
- Will Mulcair's win mean Ed Broadbent will finally be in retirement?
Broadbent's scathing attack on Mulcair in the weeks leading up to the
convention was sheer political gold. Not only did Broadbent try to
swing his weight one more time within the party, he did so and failed.
Broadbent left the NDP leadership in 1989, it's time for him to
realize it. Getting up on that stage Saturday night with the other
previous leaders of the NDP must have been a teeth-gnashing
- The CBC's coverage that I saw was ok, up until the hosts started
talking after the crowning. At least Peter Mansbridge managed to
hammer in one question about Mulcair being opportunistic, even if it
was a soft lob in.
- For all of the bluster online about Sun Media covering the event,
and all of their reporters covering it from the floor tweeting online,
at the moment of the big event, Sun News was showing repeats of shows
from the work week. Was someone asleep at master-control when the
fourth ballot results were being released? So much for "Fair and