Monday, August 10, 2009

Fancy That

Even though I've voted for the party as many times as I've voted Liberal in the last four elections, my current party status tends to allow for dismissive "spin" retorts whenever I dare question anything the NDP does, or has done. That irrelevant reaction from kneejerk hacks aside, it is quite fascinating to hear a NDP stalwart echo points I've made before:

The simple fact of the matter, the NDP didn't do well in the last election, despite the "perfect storm" conditions. To qualify that, yes they won more seats, but really it wasn't the rosy result that is now almost folklore. If only a few more Liberals bothered to show up at the polls, that little incremental percentage change would have been nullified, and the fact that less people voted NDP more pronounced. It was default victory, more a statement on the Liberals objectively dreadful performance than some endorsement of the NDP direction. This underlying thesis gets lost, and partially explains why the NDP continue with the same tired themes, we've now heard for years. The false momentum has caused a lack of introspection, although to be fair this has happened with all parties at different points in history- the Liberals were guilty of complacency for years, as they racked up majorities but lost their soul, drunk with circumstantial success. Anyways, it's nice to hear Rebick not particularly satisfied with past results, she seems to have a sense that it really was an opportunity wasted, one that isn't likely to come again.

I also find it quite refreshing to hear open talk of the NDP "backroom", because too often people project this nonsensical frame of the NDP acting with pure conscience, only interested in the issues, while others play their petty games. What Rebick is saying, when she articulates "giving up", a resistance to "change", is that the NDP acts and operates exactly like the other parties, they claim to despise. It's why I find it laughable when the Liberals are constantly accused of political expediency, when it's so obvious that the same considerations abound no matter the affiliation. That's a tough pill to swallow, but there is wisdom in Rebick's words, much objective truth too.

Rebick's comments are a nice preamble to the NDP convention, which looks strangely like the supposed Seinfeld convention the Liberals recently had in Vancouver. With unemployment soaring, all these problems with our society that the NDP love to champion, we are left with this comical obsession over a name change, Lavigne telling the world that election prep is the central focus. Hardly "kitchen table" emphasis, and a bit strange given all the heat directed our way during the Liberal convention.

Anyways, I'm sure that confidence motion count will win the day, because stale is the new fresh I suppose.


Anonymous said...

I will play the devil's advocate while the NDP cadres party up in Halifax.

This was the second best performance for the NDP since 1988. Major gains in St. John's and Edmonton. Solidifying their hold of London, Welland, and Hamilton. Whitewashing the Grits in Northern Ontario.

A perfect storm to the 2008 Grit disaster. Nevertheless, I agree with Rebick. As the NDP moves more centre left, there will be alienation among the grassroots. Something that the Grits can capitalize on, if they get a progressive message in order.

Robert McClelland said...

The simple fact of the matter, the NDP didn't do well in the last election, despite the "perfect storm" conditions.

Isn't this what conservatives are saying right now about the Liberals' failure to make any meaningful headway against the Conservatives.

DL said...

Of course imagine if the NDP invited Judy Rebick and her cadre of followers wearing mismatched socks and chanting "he-he! ho-ho! something or other has got to go" were to take over the party and run it their way? You'd be shrieking that the NDP had totally marginalized itself by becoming a leftwing fringe bookend and that they were just trying to be the Canadian equivalent of Ralph Nader - and destined to get a similar 2% of the vote.

What Judy Rebick has to say about the current direction of the NDP is about as relevant as what Joe Clark thinks of the current positioning of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Steve V said...

"Isn't this what conservatives are saying right now about the Liberals' failure to make any meaningful headway against the Conservatives."

Yes Robert, a 15% swing in the polls since the election doesn't register. What constitutes "headway" in 10 months? Nevermind, I don't care to know.

Judy Rebick=Joe Clark

Wow, that's a great analogy.

Another try perhaps?

Robert McClelland said...

You either didn't read my comment carefully or didn't understand it. So here it is again. You are using the same bit of spin that the conservatives have been using against the Liberals. They claim that the Liberals haven't been able to make any headway against them despite the "perfect economic storm". So bravo for burnishing your green cred by recycling conprop.

Anonymous said...

You know that is a good point. Perhaps after the poor performance in the last election, the Liberals were due for some changes.

Maybe they should have a new leader. Perhaps they should focus on building the party membership and increasing fund-raising.

And maybe . . .

oops. forgot. did the first and making incredible strides on the second.

Nevermind ;)

Éric said...

I think the NDP's performance in 2008, the second best in their history, is absolutely significant.

I also don't believe that the NDP seriously sees itself as a potential government, but rather an opposition party that can hold the balance of power.

The talk of the NDP forming the official opposition, however, was grossly uninformed. It required a catastrophe for both the Liberals and the Bloc that is simply impossible.

Alley Cat's Dumpster said...

Nevertheless, I agree with Rebick. As the NDP moves more centre left, there will be alienation among the grassroots. Something that the Grits can capitalize on, if they get a progressive message in order."

Sure the grassroots of the NDP are really interested in extending the mission in Afghanistan, and tar sands development with little environmental regard,and policy positions with little difference between Harper cons and Iggy liberals. Under Iggy who is some ways is positioning the libs to the right of Harper cons in some areas, the message will need to do a 360. And they love his stance on EI - particularly the waffle.
But the message - well we all know libs love to spin from the left in the election cycle - but this time, it looks that Iggy is courting con supporters.

Steve V said...

"You either didn't read my comment carefully..."

That was probably it, a learned behavior ;)

Dame said...

My Only Hope is the canadian public Finally realize the empty vessel .. road to nowhere nature Of the whole NDP representing as some CHOICE . and drop it.

Smarten up Canada ! It is about Time to Decide .

Anthony said...

Why do I think a "Lend me your vote, just this once." line will come back to haunt jack in this election?

Éric said...

I sincerely hope people weren't so easily swayed.

Steve V said...

More from Rebick's blog column here. She seems to like Dewar, who would be my choice to replace Layton after the next election.

Éric said...

I've only heard good things about Paul Dewar. But I don't think the NDP has much chance for growth in Ottawa. Layton helps maintain a relatively strong NDP presence in Toronto.

I don't think Layton needs to go, polls show that he is generally the most well-liked of all the leaders at a personal level.

Anonymous said...

Strange, I thought I posted this. Anyway, if the NDP could really change and become a more mainstream party, like what Blair did to the Labour Party, I could vote for them. I'm already giving them a second look, but there's still things I find unappealing. To be honest, I don't think they'll make the changes that are necessary. If they did, however, they could change the political landscape ... particularly in Quebec.

Éric said...

I don't think so. Second-choice and past-voting choices show that the NDP and Bloc share a lot of the same voters. The NDP and Bloc have one major difference that the NDP can't overcome: sovereigntists will vote for the Bloc.

Anonymous said...

Very good point Eric. I have always wondered if it would ever be possible for the Bloc to drop their separation demand, though remain sovereigntists, and form some sort of alliance with the NDP - sort of the Quebec NDP party, but not quite. I don't see how that could ever come to play, but if it did ... wow. Personally, I do like that the NDP exists. It keeps the left wing wacos out of the Liberal Party. But they do have opportunities that they just seem to keep missing.

Steve V said...


If you compare Layton's personal popularity numbers now, relative to where he was consistently standing prior to the last election, there has been a noticeable shift. It started after the coalition, and continued during the spring. I know the results you're speaking too, but there is also plenty of evidence to support a "past his best before" date. If the NDP lose seats in the next election, which is a solid bet, I can see a movement to look for a new leader. Should the Liberals manage to regain Outremont (and a very strong push is certain), that leaves Dewar in my mind. I'm biased though, I very much like how he carries himself, mostly substance, little partisan posturing.


It's strange the way anon's think we have any clue who they are. Good to know that nobody is considering the NDP :) Get an identity.

Steve V said...

The NDP had their big chance in the last election. I was frankly worried after Outremont, that they could really establish a beach head, with the Liberals so weak in Quebec. That never materialized, and that's pretty much Rebick's point here. I will be shocked if they make any headway in the next election, in fact I'll put odds that Mulclair loses their only seat (a fierce fight for sure, but entirely doable). If that happens, I think they're done in the province for some time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve, you allow anonymous posters here. Not all blogs do but since you allow it I didn't think it mattered.

Éric said...


Well, the Bloc doesn't have a demand of separation, they merely support sovereigntism. There is no chance of the Bloc deciding to give-up on sovereignty. The membership is made up, more or less, of the same people who form the PQ.


I like Dewar. If Layton does go, he would be ideal as a replacement. But I think Dewar is very low-key, and it would be risky to bring in Dewar without, at least, some preparation. The NDP should put Mulcair on the back-burner (his continued existence in Parliament is unlikely, at best) and bring Dewar to the forefront. But Dewar isn't exactly flashy. He's respectable, and unfortunately I'm not sure if that is enough in this political climate.

Steve V said...

That's subjective, I'll delete "anon's" in a heartbeat if it's crap. I'm just saying, you speaking like we know who you are, when really it's just whomever. I can't keep track, so if you want to come back and say "member when I thought", or "I would vote NDP", it's like whatever. Just sayin. And besides, is it so laborious to actually spend 8 seconds picking a nic, even if it's just a signature to an anon?


Steve V said...


I hear you, he's a bit understated, which might not jive with today's want. That said, the way he addresses issues is attractive, if people got to know him they might enjoy his low partisanship approach. Who knows?

New SC poll ;)

Éric said...

Great, and I'm away from the computer until tomorrow afternoon.

But SC takes forever to put their details on their website, so I guess I can be a little late too.

Anonymous said...

"I've only heard good things about Paul Dewar. But I don't think the NDP has much chance for growth in Ottawa. Layton helps maintain a relatively strong NDP presence in Toronto."

YOu pick a leader based on their national appeal - not based on whether they might win an extra seat in their hometown. Right now the NDP has two seats in Toronto and one in Ottawa - what does it mean? BTW: No one stays leader forever, the person I would have my eye on as a possible successor to Layton is Charlie Angus of Timmins.

Oemissions said...

Jack's behavior in the last election even alienated party members, especially over his response to Liz May.
Also, Dion was pulling in many environmentally concerned peoplewho never before voted Liberal.

Anonymous said...

"Jack's behavior in the last election even alienated party members"

I wonder what "behaviour" you're referring to that party members didn't like? Was it running for Prime Minister? (I doubt it). Was it only ever attacking the Tories and letting the Liberals get off scot-free (I doubt it) was it getting the best results in 20 years? (I doubt that).

Steve V said...

"letting the Liberals get off scot-free "

Oh, the lazy revisionism. Two words- CARBON TAX. Please.

Oemissions said...

I am referring mainlt to his chiming in with Harper to bar Ms May from the debates.
If its still up, see the Facebook page on the issue.
The NDP's position on the "Environment" and policies was not as appealing as The Libs.
Jack also made some goofy statements.

DL said...

What about the Carbon Tax? I don't recall the NDP talking about it very much at all during the campaign - except to say that they had a different plan that was centred on cap'n trade. If you have the time, watch news coverage of every single day of the campaign in 2008 and I challenge you to find me a speech or an ad where the NDP ever wasted a nanosecond attacking the Liberals.

Let's face it the Liberals laid an egg with their carbon tax proposal - it was a flop and I don't see why anyone would blame the NDP for not wanting to immolate itself by supporting a Liberal policy that was extremely unpopular. Don't blame the NDP for the fact that the Liberals came out with a poorly drafted and poorly executed policy that left them as sitting ducks for Tory attacks. There was Dion driving into the tollgate like Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and your suggesting that the NDP ought to have been sitting in the passenger seat?

The whole business about May and the debate was about a 24 hour story and everyone forget about it except a few diehard Green Party supporters. In the end May was in the debate and contribute zilch and probably cut into the Liberal vote way more than the NDP.

Anyways, if you're right that soooo many party members were alienated by Layton during the last campaign, we should expect to see some significant proportion of delegates at the NDP convention this weekend voting for a leadership review. The proof will be in the pudding.

Steve V said...

Don't believe me, ask your own candidates. Every single candidates debate I saw, read the transcript for, the NDP candidate slagged the carbon tax, using the same fear mongering arguments.

Oemissions said...

I live in the Saanich/Gulf Islands constituency.
Many of us for several years wanted a Green/NDP coalition.
Briony Penn, a brilliant high profile environment and long time NDP/Green supporter was courted by all parties, except the Cons to run for them. She chose the Libs because of Dion and his position on the environment.She LOST by a few NDP votes for an NDP candidate who had withdrawn from the election.
I, with many others, who want to get on with things and defeat the Cons were ecstatic about the Coalition Accord.
The Cons continue to rule because of stupid egotism from the Libs, NDP, and Greens.
Next election, we will still be holding our noses and voting strategically.

DL said...

"The Cons continue to rule because of stupid egotism from the Libs, NDP, and Greens."

Correction, the Conservatives continue to rule because of Michael Ignatieff. He could have dumped Harer and become PM last January - but he decided that he'd rather be a silent partner in a "grand coalition" with Harper than form a coalition with the NDP.

...meanwhile in other news, its interesting that Ignatieff was for the Carbon Tax when he ran against Dion for the leadership, but now he has completely rejected it. I guess now he can say he was "for it before he was against it"!

Oemissions said...

"Don't follow leaders,watch your parkin metres" Bob Dylan
Actually, I view a "leader" as a chosen spokesperson for the elected MPs affiliated with him.
If he misrepresents the mjority of them, then pull him/her off the stage:immediately.