Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What About The High Road?

I don’t mean to keep bashing the NDP, it’s just the hypocrisy is so striking. All the criticism surrounding the May/Dion agreement seems to revolve around the idea of limiting voter choice, disenfranchising people. People are entitled to all the available options, clearly the Green/Liberal pact has an anti-democratic angle.

With that sentiment in mind, this rhetoric is ridiculous:
"I don't think we need her in the debate," said Charlie Angus, the party's MP for Timmins-James Bay. "Dion is obviously her leader. I don't think there really is a place for Elizabeth May. She's not giving us a clear enough alternative."
Mr. Angus was joined in his criticism by former party leader Alexa McDonough.
"It's pretty hard to distinguish now between the Grits and the Greens," Ms. McDonough said. "So I guess she can have her leader, Stéphane Dion, speak for her in the debates. It seems an odd way to shrink down her party stature, but that's what she's done."

To be fair, others have come out favoring May’s inclusion in the debates, but the above is just absurd, for a party that prides itself on its egalitarian nature. I thought the electoral system needed reform, to better reflect the wishes of Canadians, open up the process? Don’t the 600 000 Green voters deserve a voice on the national stage, clearly the Green Party has moved beyond the fringe.

There is a danger here for the NDP, in its approach to the Green Party. The reactions come off as highly partisan, with little relationship to the rhetoric the party likes to project. Obviously I’m biased, but I would say the NDP has appeared bitter, slightly vindictive and entirely unproductive in the Day/Dion aftermath. The reaction should have been high signal, but instead it makes the NDP appear just like the other parties it so often loves to condemn.

The political risk, and this is where I think many in the NDP are being shortsighted, you give Canadians the impression that you’re not part of the solution, but more part of the problem. Core NDP supporters will remain steadfast, but I suspect we could see some erosion in soft support, as a stop Harper movement takes shape.

May should be in the debates, period. The NDP should embrace this stance as a real reflection of the ideas it likes to champion. Anything less looks like petty partisanship, and detracts from the continual attempt to paint the NDP as different from the others. There is a “siege” mentality developing within the NDP, and I don’t think this posture will resonate well with Canadians, in fact I’m willing to bet it comes at a cost. If you prescribe to the idea that the Greens and Liberals are conspiring to marginalize the NDP, I submit the early disappointing reaction from the NDP only helps the cause.


Anonymous said...

Well, can you believe that the party "that's for the working people" don't believe the 660,000 working people that voted Green don't count.

It's more like Layton is running scared.

Steve V said...

"It's more like Layton is running scared."

Better to project an air of confidence, like all this doesn't phase you. A much better strategy than trying to go negative on May and such, it looks desperate.

Anonymous said...

They're collapsing into a siege mentality. The barricades are up.

Then again the dead last thing any of the Cdn parties want is a strong Green Party of Canada in the international movement in any legislatively significant way.

It's worth looking at European experience with the organized Green political movement.

Scotian said...

"The political risk, and this is where I think many in the NDP are being shortsighted, you give Canadians the impression that you’re not part of the solution, but more part of the problem. Core NDP supporters will remain steadfast, but I suspect we could see some erosion in soft support, as a stop Harper movement takes shape." Steve V 2nd to last paragraph from post

Yep, this is exactly what I think is happening too. The NDP has placed itself in a position where their rhetoric and their actions are in direct AND open conflict, especially in the eyes of every swing progressive voter that sees Harper as the main threat to their beliefs/Canada. I have always maintained it is in this category of voter that the actions of Layton over the last 2 years where the price of his de facto alliance with Harper against the Liberals would end up being paid from.

You also said this in the final paragraph: "There is a “siege” mentality developing within the NDP, and I don’t think this posture will resonate well with Canadians, in fact I’m willing to bet it comes at a cost." I think this is also an astute observation. I have been seeing the same thing, and one of the grumblings I hear when I talk to or overhear others discussing politics locally indicates this is being seen by more than just we political junkies. One of the comments I heard was why the hell was Layton not only more interested in defeating the Libs than the current government which is CPC, but also that he and his NDP feel like they are becoming more and more rigid/dogmatic and not the flexible party they used to support.

Now granted we are not talking about a scientific study, and this is minimal anecdotal evidence which should not be given any more weight than such appropriately deserves. Why I bring it up is simply that it sounds like this pattern is being noticed by non-aligned progressive voters in my area and it would not surprise me that this is being seen elsewhere as well. What bothers me is that the loyalist partisan NDPers seem to be willing to place more faith in Layton than in sticking to their original principles, and to be honest Steve V that bothers me more than a little.

I am also saddened to see that my MP is being so disingenuous, Alexa knows better than that. May and Dion are aligned on one policy area, the environment, and that in those terms alone May thinks Dion is the best choice of the other parties aside from her own. The Greens have a more comprehensive agenda than simply on the environment and Alexa knows that as well. Yet she is making the argument that these are essentially the same parties now?!? She needs to watch out how much she insults the intelligence of her constituents with this, and if she starts showing some of the same nastiness that we have seen from Layton on this then that may also come back to haunt/hurt here in her riding next election time.

The NDP is digging its own grave with these actions outside of their core base, which has never been enough to get them beyond bare party status overall. I understand why Layton thought he had a chance to supplant the Liberals when Martin's clock was running out and even during the first months of the Harper government. However, it should have been clear to him by late summer/fall last year that the Liberal base was not eroding far enough to give his party the advantage, and that the longer they and he stayed aligned with Harper and the CPC in casting the Liberals as the real threat to Canada/Canadians the more tightly linked they would become in the minds of Canadians.

Something a lot of people tend to underestimate, especially in the political world in my observation is that the average Canadian voter actually pays a fair amount of attention to what the various parties and governments actually are up to, far more than for example our American cousins. This is something that has been a long term difference and it is one of the reasons why I don't think some of the assumptions that the CPC use that are premised on that ignorance (which exists in American politics far more than ours) in the voting public will work as well or to the same effect. This is one of those areas where I truly believe our two respective cultures to be profoundly different and as one of those differences Harper is unable to see with his convictions that our two societies/cultures are essentially the same.

lance said...

No seat, no debate. It's like needing 100 signatures to run; minimum standards.

To allow May into the debate sets a precedent for every other fringe party and the consortium will be hard pressed to stop it.

If not a seat, what? 5% of national vote . . . oh wait, the Greens didn't get there either. Greater than 10 news items in a week? Aggregate polling of 8.2% or greater over a period of three months?

It's too silly to be real, and it is only the Liberals who are advocating for it . . . geez, think it might be politically motivated? Nah.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! When Elections Canada was decidin' what made a credible party deservin' of $1.75 per garnered vote, they used 2% as the threshold.

In the 2006 election, none of the true fringe parties got 2% - Marxist-Leninists, Marijuana Party, Family Coalition, Christian Heritage, etc.

The Greens got 4.5%. That ain't huge but if we had a proportional parliament, there'd be 4% Greens -- 12 MP's.

The chickenshit anti-democratic obfuscaters can make all the arbitrary rules they want an' until Elections Canada takes the reins on these here debates, we'll keep puttin' our democracy in the hands of the TV networks an' their commercial vested interests. Guess those are Jack's new buddies.


lance said...

Heh, chicken-shit obfuscators? What's confusing about, 'No they don't have any seats'?

If wishes were beans we'd all be in Gore's movie.

Canada doesn't have PR, the Greens don't have 12 seats, and they haven't done anything to deserve a spot on the debate.

Obfuscate that, JB.


Karen said...


Steve, the ad we referred to the other day is out

I like it.

Karen said...

Lance, all it would take is a simple change of rules...could happen.

Dr. Tux said...

I support having May in the debates. To not support her is simply regressive politics.

susansmith said...

Steve, the ad we referred to the other day is out
Great ad, nice copy, liberals meet the challenge today on the environment. But yesterday, and for 13 years of liberal rule green house gases increased by 30%.
I guess we'll all work on that tomorrow, because we really, really, really mean it this time

Karen said...

Jan, the party was not led by Dion for 13 years. Don't you grow weary of repeating the same silly phrase over and over and over again?

Now the party is led by Dion and the point of the ad is to show his leadership.

Listen, if he gets a chance to lead a Government and does nothing on this file, I'll join you in the rant.

Northern BC Dipper said...

Well, I would have supported May in the debates before, but now she is explicitly supporting Dion for Prime Minister.

If she is not willing to explain why she should be Prime Minister on her own merits, and is going to spend the time explaining why Dion should be PM, well, in all fairness, there should only be one person making the case for Dion as PM - Dion.

That simple.

lance said...

Sheeple: Regressive? What you mean the GPC leader was once allowed on the debates and now politics is forcing the consortium to reverse their decision?

knb: I agree, they could change the rules. . .but as I said earlier, to what? It would be a mistake not to put some kind of limit (if having a seat is too cumbersome). Does the consortium make a "special, one time only, offer" to May and only May.

It's not the job of the consortium to appeal to popular themes in the country, it's their job to present the candidates for leader.


Steve V said...

"If she is not willing to explain why she should be Prime Minister on her own merits"

How many times do you hear Layton tell us why he should be PM? You don't, because the NDP knows that isn't realistic. That reality begs the question, who should be PM? May has articulated her view, but that doesn't detract from her ability to argue the Green platform. It's a free country, if May offers an opinion, that opinion shouldn't sway you one way or the other.

We should ban the Bloc, Greens and NDP if the debates are clearly about leading the country. That's simple.

Anonymous said...

With the Grits, Tories, Dippers and Blocqists all in the debate at the same time, there are already too many voices and the messages are being drowned out. If the Greenies are going to be added then we need to switch to a head-to-head round-robin format, with the winner of each contest decided by popular vote. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I like it. We should let the Rhinos, the Mary Janes and all-comers in as well. Heck, maybe we could get some Yogic Flyers from the Universal Law Party to perform during the intermissions.

Steve V said...


I think they will need to break it down into segments, like they did in the Liberal leadership debates. We could always leave the Bloc out of the English debate? Might be the time to quit appeasing a regional party.

wayward son said...


There is NO RULE that states that a party must have a seat to be in the debates. The media consortium allows who they want to allow. When they didn't allow the GPC in the debates for 2004 they said that they didn't want five people in the debates. Come 2006 they said that the GPC didn't have a seat. But when asked if having a seat was a requirement they said that there were no rules.

Quite simply having a set of rules would be ridiculous and the media conglomerates are not that stupid. The debates are supposed to be about the present and future, not the past. Having a no seat rule could potentially lead to a real disasterous situation. For example the United Farmers of Ontario won the most seats in the 1919 ontario election, at the time of the previous election they did not exist. Whether the BQ or Reform parties had seats or not they would have been allowed into the 1993 debates for the simple reason that polls showed that excluding them would have been an assault on democracy.

If the Greens (or any other party without a seat) had 20% in the polls there is no doubt they would allowed. The question is should a party without seats polling at 10% be allowed? I think most Canadians want to hear what the Greens have to say and the media conglomerates should react accordingly.

So no rule needs to be changed because there is no rule excluding the Greens.

Anonymous said...

The biggest reason the NDP don't want May there is because May legitimately has the environmental chops the NDP only babble about having. She's sure to point to the environmental shortcomings of provincial NDP governments as indications that the federal party's rhetoric is unreliable.

The Liberal power hierarchy probably don't want her there either tho I won't say the same of Dion yet.

Harper definitely doesn't want here there.

The central problem is that she knows the issue forwards, backwards, inside out and upside down and has been so committed for so long that she won't play the deference game that these dog and pony shows require.

She could well call one of the doofuses out for lying and back it up. Her committment is not to the status quo but rather to substantive change.

The 3 amigos know this and are probably as nervous as hell that she'll do or say something so out of the ordinary that suddenly she'll have a share of a spotlight they don't have the switch to.

Think Gordon Wilson during the BC debates back in the '91 election.

lance said...

Okay wayward, let's just all abdicate reason and make the assumption that there was a media consortium in the Ontario election of 1919 and therfore should be a precedent to 2008 election debates.

Oh, wait, that ain't my style.