Monday, 10 September 2012
The NDP Are Sitting on the Edge of Cliff And They Do Not Even Know it.
It might be a good idea for the NDP and Tom Mulcair to take a little break from planning their victory party for the next election and figure out a way to hold on to Quebec. After all, that is the province that gave them their "Historicorange wave. Tom Mulcair got heavily involved in Ontario by elections while pretty much ignoring the Quebec general election. In case you missed it Tom, the Quebec nationalists are back in power and they, not the Conservatives, will be gunning for the NDP in Quebec.
Jack Layton convinced Quebecers to give the NDP a shot as most of Quebec felt the Liberals and BQ were taking them for granted. He promised that the NDP was the best party to represent Quebecers on a national stage. And what have you done?
Pauline Marios is an agitator. She will press you, as the leader of the party with the most seats in Quebec, to support her in gaining more autonomy from Ottawa. She will do the same with Harper but it is different with him. The PQ, like the NDP, is a big government socialist party that hates the Harper spending cuts, tough stance on crime and support for the tar sands. However the new Conservative Party of Canada is very different from the Liberal and PC parties that held power in the past.Those old parties were founded on support for a strong centralized government.
The Conservatives are the Reform Party that grew out of western alienation. They grew as a response to frustration with the contant meddling of the Trudeau and Mulroney government dictating to the provinces. So a key part of the Reform/Conservative platform is greater autonomy for the provinces. The NDP is a federalist party. They are also a big government, social engineering party. They cannot help but meddle. And all the Quebec nationalist parties know that an NDP party in power in Ottawa will dictate to Quebec just like the Liberals and PCs. The Quebec nationalists will see the NDP as a bigger threat than the Conservatives as the Conservatives are willing to grant them more power and pretty much leave them alone.
Politically Haper will not be seen by the rest of Canada as treating as a special case, giving into PQ threats--which was a problem that plagued Liberal and PC parties of the past. The Conservative position on greater provincial autonomy applies to all provinces, not just Quebec. Politically Harper, unlike previous Prime Ministers, will not walk on egg shells with Quebec. He knows he is giving them what they really want--which is a greater say in how their province is run. He also knows, that they know, no one else will give that much freedom to Quebec. In the end the Quebec nationalists will gun hard to run the NDP out of Quebec in the next federal election. It could be a revitalized BQ, it could be the PQ, CAQ or it could be a party that does not exist yet.
Much of the popularity the NDP enjoys right now has come at the expense of the Liberal Party. The Liberals are not dead yet though. Simply electing a new leader will be enough to give them a bump. Bob Rae has way too much baggage as leader. He was the worst premier in the history of the largest province. A province that is the Liberal heartland. Businesses hated him because of ridiculous bureaucracy and a brutal deficit. Individuals hated him because of crazy tax grabs. Public sector unions hated him for imposing massive pay cuts on them. Private sector unions hated him because his policies were driving employers out of Ontario at an alarming rate.
There will be some hard questions to answer when the next election comes. Like how come there is very little French being spoken by the NDP Quebec caucus in the House of Commons. There is actually more French coming from the Conservative side. Many in the NDP Quebec caucus cannot even speak French. If the Quebec election taught us anything is that language is very important in Quebec. It is more important the LGR, Dutch Disease and the Tar Sands all put together. In addition, when the attacks start coming you will have to do all the heavy lifting. A large number of your NDP members in Quebec cannot defend against those attacks when they cannot even understand the language the attacks are coming in.
Quebec nationalists will press Mulcair on the fact that he refuses to comment on the main issues in Quebec while at the same time getting involved in Ontario politics. They will accuse him of taking Quebec for granted, of only caring about Ontario. These are accusations he will have a hard time defending. At the same time Mulcair carries baggage from his time with the Quebec Liberal party that was just run out of office. Traditionally the NDP does very well with young activists all over Canada. In Quebec most activists (whether students or not) are major supporters of the student protests over tuition hikes. They will remember that Mulcair was a big supporter of increasing tuition. Other traditional NDP base, public service unions, were also supporters of the student protests.
The biggest blow (Other than maybe the lack of French) is coming soon with the corruption hearing was a cabinet minister for a government that was involved in the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Canada. He will be out, trying to drum up support by attacking Harper on overpaying for fighter jets and his support of big oil. The Quebec nationalists will then be quick to remind everyone Mulcair was part of a government involved in mafia construction bid rigging and bribes.
Time for the NDP to pull their head's out of the clouds and start fulfilling Jack Layton's promise to represent Quebec. It is not enough to be anti-Harper. It is also not enough to ride Jack Layton's coat tails. Just ask John Tuner, Al Gore and Paul Martin. Following a popular does not mean success. Layton was not even as popular as you like to pretend he was. Those other politicians followed people who won multiple elections. Jack Layton is famous for coming in a distant second in one election.