Friday, September 09, 2011

The Race for Stornoway

The rules have been set. The NDP will select their next leader March 24th in Toronto. The entry fee will be $15,000, with a $500,000 spending limit. It will be one-member-one-vote, and unions will no longer receive a set percentage of the vote.

Not that I would want the job, but were I in charge of the rules, I would have chosen Montreal as the location, to build on NDP momentum in Quebec. I also would have weighted votes by riding, to encourage candidates to sell memberships outside traditional NDP strongholds.

But on the whole, I think the executive did a fine job. The timeline strikes the right balance, and ending the special status for unions is a key step for the NDP as it tries to remake itself into a more mainstream party.

So who will win?

Well, the March vote means Thomas Mulcair will grace the NDP race with his presence. Mulcair is no doubt the favourite, but given the bleak NDP membership totals in Quebec, he has his work cut out for him. It likely doesn't help that no one inside or outside the party seems to like him personally, either.

Brian Topp has been named as a frontrunner since the day Layton died, so I'd expect him to run, and contend. Odds are Francoise Boivin, Anne McGrath or Megan Leslie will run to ensure a strong female candidate. Pat Martin has said he's in, to provide comic relief.

But if you put the Vegas odds in front of me, my money would be on Peter Julian or Paul Dewar right now. Lesser known MPs, but well-liked within the party and both possessing at least a pinch of experience and talent.

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8 Comments:

  • No special status for big labour. Seems the NDP is serious about this whole power thing. Now if the NDP can keep from imploding due to the inconsistencies inherent with supporting both a strong central government and a de facto independent Quebec (a big if, IMO), Liberals will have reason to be afraid of being relegated to permanent 3rd party status.

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 5:45 PM  

  • "ending the special status for unions is a key step for the NDP as it tries to remake itself into a more mainstream party."

    After reading the NDP constitution I think removing the Union allocation for associate members (members of unions that are automatic NDP associate members) has the opposite effect - it entrenches union domination no?

    Under one member one vote, who is the largest voting block? Associate union members likely out number current NDP direct members 10-1.

    Realistically you could run a winning campaign without signing up a single member by just adopting policies friendly to a big union or two and building an effective get out the vote machine.

    Unless membership sales are huge, will any candidate seriously sign up enough people to outweigh CUPE now that associate memberships don't have a 25% ceiling in the leadership contest?

    As Turmel said “It is one member, one vote.” - it just happens that union members vastly out number NDP 'core' members, unless associate members aren't allowed to vote at all.

    By Blogger Kyle Olsen, at 11:07 PM  

  • As Brian said to the ex-leper, there's no pleasing some people.

    By Blogger Purple library guy, at 2:10 AM  

  • "doesn't help that no one inside or outside the party seems to like him"

    absolutely. he's not winning. period.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:59 AM  

  • Not that it means much but Paul Dewar is my MP and I have never been anything less than impressed by my dealings with him.

    By Anonymous MPAVictoria, at 12:06 PM  

  • Kyle: Only those who hold NDP membership cards can vote - under this system and the old system. The only advantage associate membership provides to unions is at normal conventions where their allotment of delegates is based on total members in the union rather than the number of card carrying members. Associate membership is held by the union itself, each individual member of a union is not an "associate member" of the party.

    Dan: They announced that the next policy convention will be in Quebec.

    By Blogger Denny, at 3:23 PM  

  • Mulcair's recent pronouncements in the media have only confirmed my fears about him as leader - too impulsive, too hot-headed and too arrogant - in many ways Layton's polar opposite. His ridiculous comments about bin Laden were not an aberration. While I can see the logic in selecting a Quebecer, Mulcair simply does not have the temperment to be an effective leader. A great attack dog or hatchet man, for sure, but not Prime Ministerial by any stretch.

    I like Paul Dewar but the fact that he is not a foaming-at-the-mouth critic of Israel, America and the Canadian military will probably doom him among the party activists most likely to vote. Peter Julian has the chops, but zero profile. Topp is in many ways the strongest candidate but for that "never-held-elective-office" thing (mind you, that didn't seem to hurt one B. Mulroney too much). The lack of an obvious successor will make this an interesting race to be sure.

    By Blogger ghoris, at 4:17 AM  

  • Why does everyone assume that being a member of a union means you will either join or vote for the NDP? That makes no sense at all, sinced union membership is determined by your job and/or employer, i.e. if you want to work at Safeway or the government or in the trades, you have to join the union. So what? Why would that make someone vote NDP?

    It would be interesting to see if there are any stats showing a direct correlation to union membership and voting patterns, because I would guess that, at least outside Ottawa with a gazillion federal (union) employees, the numbers might prove otherwise.

    On a personal basis, the 5 people I know who are or have been union members would refuse to vote rather than vote NDP. Of course, four of the five are in Alberta...

    By Blogger Candace, at 10:55 PM  

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