Monday, March 26, 2012

Mulcair wins NDP race

Back in the 80's during junior high and high school, my close group of friends and I were each politically aligned across all three parties--PC, Liberal, and NDP.  I believe we had two influences at the time--our parents, and our social studies teachers.

One of my friends was an NDP supporter because his particular teacher was a staunch socialist.  This teacher had pictograms on the wall of how socialism worked--how wealth was equally distributed which made all the smiley faces happy.  My social studies teacher, on the other hand, explained socialism as such:

"Imagine if we redistrbuted the marks in this class so you'd each have the average.  No matter how hard you studied, even if you got 100%, you'd get the average.  Is that fair?"

We ALL thought that wasn't fair.

The classic socialist way of thinking, seemed to be what the NDP at the time stood for, along with strong union ties.  Ed Broadbent, a charasmatic leader, brought the party to its highest standing in the house, however more likely due to a weak Liberal leader, seeing their party standing reach the lowest in its history.

Sound familiar?

After Ed stepped down, the NDP elected two capable women to lead them, but with a strong Liberal leader in Jean Chretien, and the conservative side split up, the momentum was lost. 

Then a former Toronto city councillor jumped into the fray, and the era of Jack Layton, began, albeit slowly.

Jack's political prowess was not in winning over the rest of Canada, even where the NDP was born, but in seeing a political vacuum occur in Quebec, where the Bloc was losing its stature, especially in a Conservative minority gov't, often voting with the government, as the government poured money into Quebec.  Few have mentioned this strategy, but a hole was found when a piddly amount of arts funding into Quebec was to be cut and this cost Harper a potential majority.

Even though the idea of a coalition between the Liberals and NDP (with Bloc support) was most popular in Quebec, with the NDP creeping into political areas usually exclusively associated with Gilles Duceppe's party's views, Quebeckers began to realize that the NDP, if enough support was given, could actually form government with a strong Quebec-centered caucus and policy.

Another "Quiet Revolution" was born.

But we must remember, that in 2007 the captain who won one of the strongest Liberal ridings in Quebec, Outremont, was Thomas Mulcair.  A former cabinet minister in Jean Charest's Liberal government, Mulcair easily won the riding, most likely due to defecting Bloc supporters.

Then Jack appointed him and Libby Davies to be co-deputy leaders in caucus.  And because of Jack's sad loss to cancer, on the weekend, Mulcair became NDP leader and leader of the official opposition.

And it was the right choice for the NDP--maintaining their strong foothold in Quebec with someone who is well known and popular there.

He says his first priority is party unity.  Even elderstatesman Ed Broadbent said himself he wasn't supporting Mulcair due to Mulcair wanting to broaden the party base (there's a 'broad' pun in there somewhere) and more the party to the centre.  There's a bit of work to do there, but this is smart.  Jack began to do just that with even suggesting tax cuts and being working family oriented, so that those words weren't exclusively for Harper.

Many years ago in the UK, the Labour party and Conservatives squished out the Liberals to non-existence.

By electing Mulcair to continue Jack's legacy, the NDP may do just that.  But Mulcair has recognized that his first priority is party unity.  He needs to convince the old party brass of Brian Topp and Ed Broadbent that, like my old friend's social studies teacher back in the 80's, the old socialist way of thinking may get some elected, but it won't form a federal government.

No wonder the Liberals want to move their leadership race to this Fall.

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