But some of the NDP candidates for the party leadership do not seem concerned.
From what has been said during debates and party chit-chat, it is amazing how many New Democrats are convinced that the party definitely will win the 2015 election.
Therefore, most say there is no reason for leadership candidates to discuss any sort of alliance with the Liberals and Greens to send Harper packing for good.
Even though the facts indicate that an NDP win in 2015 is a long shot, three leadership hopefuls taking part in a debate in Halifax on Sunday spoke out in favour of the status quo.
The room started to get warm when B.C. MP Nathan Cullen, who is well behind the leading candidates in delegate support, said he is in favour of a one-time arrangement to join forces with the Liberals to have only one party run a candidate in many ridings where the Conservatives are strong.
Quebec-based candidate Thomas Mulcair, Nova Scotian pharmacist Martin Singh, and Peggy Nash, a Toronto MP and a former Canadian Auto Workers organizer, were quick to criticize Cullen.
“We had a historic breakthrough in the last election,” said Nash. “Why not build on that? Let’s not look at a rear-view mirror.”
Cullen responded by saying his main goal is to keep the Conservatives from winning again. He would also bring in proportional representation (PR).
“Let’s all recognize the thing that we know”, said Cullen. “That the current voting system we have in this country is broken and flawed.” While support for PR is official party policy, it has not received much attention during debates.
In addition to Cullen, former party president Brian Topp might be prepared to try to forge a post-election deal with the Liberals. When Layton formed the short-lived coalition with the Liberals in 2008, it was Topp who did much of the behind-the-scenes negotiating.
The year 2015 is a long-time away but, considering the many difficulties the NDP has to overcome to win, it is hard to understand why candidates who obviously care about the country would not come out now and explain their position on the possibility of a coalition government.
Consider these facts:
- True, the party’s popularity is holding up fairly well at about 28 per cent in the polls at a time when there is a leadership vacuum. However, based on an average of different polls, the Conservatives are still first in the mid-30s and the Liberals are up at about 23 per cent.
- First, unless there is a radical change in the country, to win in 2015 the NDP would have to substantially exceed the 30.6 per cent of the votes it received last May. The party’s previous high was 20 per cent. The party got that 30 per cent only because it was able to benefit from two fortunate developments: the collapse of the Liberal Party in much of the country, and the ability of Mulcair and Jack Layton to seize the moment when the Bloc Quebecois began to collapse in Quebec.
- The most recent Quebec opinion poll shows NDP support falling dramatically – to 27 per cent public support in January from a high of 53 per cent in June. The Bloc is also at 27 per cent, and the Liberals have grown to 14 per cent.
- “The NDP [when it won so many seats] embodied some sort of change and novelty,” said CROP pollster Youri Rivest. “People are wondering what the NDP stands for now. The NDP brand is woolly.”
- If Quebecer Mulcair does not win the leadership, it will be up to a practically unknown Anglophone to try to help at many of the party’s 58 rookie hang onto their seats.
- For the party to do well in 2015, the Liberals (currently up at about 23 per cent) would have to be practically wiped out again. This is unlikely to happen if Bob Rae becomes leader.
- To come first, the NDP would have the difficult task of taking a number of seats away from the Conservatives, who seem to be able to get 30-something per cent of the vote with their hands tied behind their backs. And, by the time the election rolls around, the Conservatives will again be sweetening the pot with gifts for targeted groups.
Considering that the future of the country might be at stake, there are two questions the leadership candidates should be asked:
- Would they formally approach the Liberals and Greens in advance of the election and suggest that only one of the three parties run candidates in a number of stronghold Conservative ridings?
- If the Conservatives win the most seats but fall short of a majority, would they approach the Liberals and Greens with the idea of setting up some form of government?
The Liberal Party says it would not take part in cooperative or coalition government but, depending on who is chosen to lead the Liberals, this could change.
As of January 26, Topp was leading the race with 32.9 per cent of the leadership endorsements. Nash was second at 25.6 per cent, and Quebec party leader Thomas Mulcair was third with 20.6 per cent.
There is plenty of time for all the candidates to fully consider their positions. The leadership convention isn’t until March 24th
Note: I have been a member of the NDP from time to time over the years, and I have renewed my membership so I can vote in the March leadership contest.
-30-JABS AND LEFT HOOKS: Fanatical right wing ideologues who want to change Canada into some sort of free-enterprise free-for-all lie to us all the time to try to accomplish their goals. Unfortunately, the mainstream media does not do its own research to show they are liars. Take the near-hysteria of Canadians over the past few days re. Harper claiming there would not be enough funding for the Old Age Security program. Mainstream journalists gobbled up all the Harper claims as being the total truth. But as you can see in this week’s Nick’s Favorite Reads, it was all lies. They lie because they want to shrink government. . . . Of course right-wing zealots like Globe RoB columnist Gwyn Morgan also lie to us to help push along the right-wing agenda. To support his claim that our medical system isn’t working, Morgan wrote that many new doctors are unable to obtain residency spots. It wasn’t a Globe editor who caught this lie. Our thanks goes to an alarmed Halifax medical student, Josh Gould, who reviewed last year’s placements and discovered that 98 per cent of medical graduates obtained a residency position. . . . . . . I regret that outspoken Calgary Sun columnist Ian Robinson has declined my challenge to write about the neoliberal policies of the Harper government. My offer of a dinner for two (value $150) still stands for any mainstreamer who has to courage to write such a piece.
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