1 Feb 2012

NDPers dreamin' of victory,
'trash' power sharing with Libs

The issue of having the New Democratic Party form an alliance with other parties – if such a move would keep the Conservatives out of power in 2015 – is vitally important for Canadians who fear the possibility of another four years of disastrous cutting and slashing.

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.
So, even if only a few of these potential problems materialize, the NDP will have a very difficult time coming first in 2015. If the leadership hopefuls care more about their country than their party, they could seriously think of developing a strategy that would see the party working with the Liberals and Greens.  

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. 

Please subscribe to my blog to receive future articles.

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.


  1. No one in the NDP has ruled out the possibility of a coalition government. And the main Liberal who did so, Ignatieff, has left the scene. But a coalition on Cullen's terms would require the Liberals agreeing to proportional representation. Rae would agree, but could he bring the caucus with him? Even Trudeau had trouble: in 1980 his throne speech promised a parliamentary committee on electoral reform, and his caucus veto'd even that small step. MPs elected from party strongholds have, in all parties, a persistent habit of ignoring the rights of all their party's voters in ridings they did not win.

    As for Cullen's proposal, it sends a nice signal to the Liberals but does not offer them anything concrete, since only about six or eight ridings across Canada might possibly consider it, and some of them would say no. It's an odd debate since people are getting scandalized about a rather small proposal.

  2. The NDP needs a "Coalition" with the 38% stay at homes not Liberals who are totally unreliable for "progressive" policies.

    Who does Cullen want to coalise with? Rae-day? or Christy Clark?

    There is as much or more latent blue than Orange in that party of HYPOCRACY.

    Want to make Harper deliriously happy? Give him again the idea of "coalition" to beat you over the head with.

    The last time it was more imagination; next time make it real if you will.

    Unfortunately the noble intentions of Catch 22 fell flat in 2011; I believe Canadians if offered will again reject "coalitions" or "strategic" voting as an anti democratic choice.

    Instead I suggest the same Catch 22 personel might begin NOW for recruiting the 38% for the May 2015 vote which will likely be held at the same time inconvenient for students (who are anti fascist)

    Would that the date be the only obstrutionist tactic to expect from Cons.

    1. The single (and only) aspect of your comments that I agree with is the whole issue of "the 38% of stay homes" that I presume means those who did not vote in the last federal election. Yes, the NDP would be wise to target that marget but they will need clear policy statements to attract them. At the same time, I may not like the idea of a 'one time coalition agreement' but I'll choose this lesser evil rather than another four years of guaranteed evil by Harper and his minions.

    2. The "coalition" idea and a Harper victory went together in 2011; if any one trots out that mistake for a REPEAT Harper will AGAIN beat the drums and AGAIN use it to HIS advantage!

      You are correct in observing the need for CLEAR policy statements of the type to attract those who did not vote last time (and many times before).

      As i see it Nash and Topp are at least not afraid to discuss taxation on a pay expenses as you go basis rather than the Libeeral ideas of deficits and borrowing setting the 99% people up for the 1% bankers.

      In case anyone is looking for it, a NEW "CENTRE" as envisioned by Occupy and other progressives is emerging. The NDP would be wise to at least acknowledge this fact which I have not seen them do to date.

  3. An Arrangement is probably the best solution Once they beat down the tories and i am sure they will. For one thing we are going to have a large number of seniors who will see a kinder gentler type of government is needed. The libs and NDP can fight it out later.

  4. 1. "...who is well behind the leading candidates in delegate support." There are no delegates! One member, one vote - you don't even need to attend the convention to vote. This is a major fact-check issue. Since you state it is a fact, where is the data to back it up? Bottom-line: No one really knows who is leading, trailing or hanging out in the middle of the pack.

    2. 1993-2004 is all we need to know. Corporate tax cuts, increased taxes on the most vulnerable, doubling of tuition fees, corporate welfare, cuts to EI, CPP and more. Team up with the Liberals? No thanks, they are just as bad.

  5. Apologies. You are correct. The term should have been "endorsement points." At the end of the article, I correctly referred to information on the 308 blog which tracks "endorsement points."

  6. Mathieu Ravignat2 February 2012 at 19:17

    Thank you for the article. I appreciate the point of view.

    Mathieu Ravignat
    NDP MP for Pontiac
    NDP Deputy Critic for International Trade

  7. I would have no part of this in my riding. Not a chance.

    James Terry
    Facebook Post

  8. I agree with Nick 100% on this issue, where in addition we also must demand proportional representation moving forward..... We cannot afford to roll the dice again.....

    Ken Lewenza
    Facebook Post

  9. If Harper starts bellyaching about coalitions again I trust someone will remind him that he was once in charge of the National Citizens COALITION?

    Daniel John Shaw
    Facebook Post

    1. He also worked to establish tht


  10. The arrogance, the “I am King” mentality of Harper needs to be met head on with leadership from all parties in opposition. Leadership differences need to be put aside new strategies must be put forth, nothing should be kept off the table. It takes true leadership to make tough decisions, remember this is about Canada . Canada and its’ citizens are under attack ! Harper must be stopped ! It’s gonna take a lot more than one party or one person to rid ourselves of Harper.

    Rob McGuffin
    Facebook Post

    1. Let us mobilise the 38% 'NO SHOWS'!!

  11. So close at one time . . .damn egos got in the way. So we suffer as a 39 % of voters party is ramming through its ideology...with little effective hindrance for 3 + years more. It just could not happen in another democratic country, where every vote counts towards representation. Yes, co-operate PLEASE. Look at the winners of the world…. even if they are paying higher taxes...

    Richard Ring
    Facebook Post

    1. The Cons (and Libs) sell us the idea that "higher taxes" are patently unjust.

      When taxes are used to pay in equitable ways the needs such as medical and educartion they are absolutely JUST.

      Topp is courageous and correct in tacling this issue.

    2. 39% of 62% = 25% CONS
      31% of 62% = 19% NDP
      19% of 62% = 12% Lib
      6% of 62% = 3.5% BLOC
      4% of 62% = 2.5% Green
      NO SHOW = 38%
      TOTAL =100%

      The NO SHOWS if organised into a PARTY could theoretically vote in a SRONG MAJORITY GOVERNMENT> of themselves Without any of the current parties.

      Crunch the numbers; even if half of these could be motivated (as Obama did in the USA) to come out and vote as a block, they would be DECISIVE.

      Never mind that Obama's "Audacity of Hope" was just a Liberal lie, he did get the latent factor to action by making them think of DIFFERENCE!!.

  12. Latest from "Liberals"

    1) "pro-life" reactionaries are working hard with Harper's tacit support, to take over the campaign and platform in (Layton's) riding of Danforth.
    2) Harper booster, Christy Clark will sell out to Big Oil and support the pipeline to the coast; this for money for her campaign to keep NDP out in next BC slection .

    Who needs a "coalition with these HYPOCRITES?