Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mulcair Triumphs

Thomas Mulcair is the second ever NDP leader of the opposition after a four ballot victory yesterday morning...and afternoon...and evening.

Although Brian Topp was seen as the establishment candidate and was hyped as the early favourite, we shouldn't be surprised that Mulcair came out on top. Since his Outremont by election win in 2007, everyone has assumed Mulcair would succeed Layton. Although he hemmed and hawed at the start of this leadership race, he was the best politician in the field, he ran a good campaign, and avoided the pratfalls that usually plague frontrunners. As a result, he was able to grow his support on each subsequent ballot - more so than Topp in fact.

As a Liberal, it's easy to scoff after the fact and say Mulcair is beatable. Many Liberals will point to his flaws, especially after watching a very unimpressive victory speech. However, I wrote before the vote that Mulcair was the most dangerous candidate for the Liberals and that remains the case. The NDP have squarely aimed their sights on the centre of the political spectrum, and they have a polished politician to lead them there.

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15 Comments:

  • Mulcair is the third NDP Leader of the Opposition, not second. Jack Layton, Nicole Turmel, Mulcair.

    By Blogger Lou Arab, at 2:46 PM  

  • Leaders whose last names start with Mul are always awesome.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 4:28 PM  

  • I was very glad to see that the Liberal party immediately asked Mulcair to clarify the so-called "Sherbrooke Declaration".

    I'm pretty sure that once the country truly realizes how pro-separatist the NDP's positions are, they will lose a substantial amount of support. It's up to the Liberal party to position itself as the natural federalist alternative.

    By Blogger Vancouverois, at 4:42 PM  

  • Congratulations are in order for Mulcair and also for Topp and the the whole field candidates. Perhaps most of all, though, congratulations are due to the NDP, which has decided to put aside its history and become a serious party.

    I was half-hoping the Dippers would retreat to the politics of vanity and elect Topp.

    After all, the party includes many despicable nut jobs (led by Queen Libby of course) and in some ways it would have been nice to see these people lock themselves back in the dream room.

    Indeed it seems that 43% of them would prefer to look in the mirror and admire their politcal purity rather than try to effect any actual change in the nation.

    But on the other hand, it really is a good thing for the country to have three serious political parties, and in particular to have an Official Opposition that's a force to be reckoned with, rather than being the political equivalent of a fart joke.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 6:12 PM  

  • The Sherbrooke Declaration issues will REALLY move to the forefront if the PQ wins this year.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:32 PM  

  • The Sherbrooke Declaration /Clarity Act stuff is only fodder for politicos. It doesn't matter to anyone outside of partisan politics.
    Both are utterly toothless and meaningless in the event of winning 'yes' vote to separation.

    By Anonymous Marc no longer from soccer, at 10:17 PM  

  • You mean like how Meech lake was a complete non-issue that had no impact whatsoever on Canadian politics?

    Stances that are perceived to "favour Quebec over the rest of Canada", or "support the separatists" are easily framed in English Canada.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 10:39 PM  

  • Either way, Mulcair is basically a Canadian version of Tony Blair. It is clear that it wants to move the the Canadian political centre to the right. Too bad for him Quebec won't have any of that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:05 PM  

  • ^
    Did anon 11:05 notice when Quebec elected the Tories in '84 and '88... and voted for the Bloc-led Tories... Or how the NDP never made inroads into Quebec till it started embracing soft nationalism... Or how many Tory budgets the Bloc voted for... Or how certain mainstays of Canadian progressive beliefs are not so popular though (eg. universal healthcare, opposition to NAFTA and multiculturalism)... Or the parade of provincial right-wing soft nationalist political parties (Union Nationale, ADQ, CAQ).

    Quebec nationalists are more left-wing than the rest of Canada. But the national question has historically trumped that.

    How this basic fact has eluded the left for so long is beyond me. Quebec nationalists want to build a strong welfare state IN Quebec, and don't really want to build the kind of inclusive national institutions the NDP has traditionally advocated.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 2:07 AM  

  • @ hosertohoosier

    I agree with your historical narrative; a story Quebeckers know very well. Over the years, Quebeckers have shown themselves to be capable of dramatic change in how they cast their votes.

    I'm arguing that if Mulcair is seeking a fundamental realignment of Canadian political landscape (two party system, a more centrist NDP, ect) , I don't think it will benefit him or his party.

    It's would be difficult for Mulcair to consolidate the gains in Quebec if he alienates voters who expect a more pragmatic approach in regards to foreign policy. He could do everything right, but this issue be his undoing in my opinion (Quebec being a region with a strong dislike of international interventionism) . He already called Blair a "extraordinary politician" a day after his win and seeks to rework their party constitution to remove "democratic socialism" from it (which I think will alienate members of his own party).

    Just my two cents..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

  • Marc, I think you're wrong. After the last Referendum, the Clarity Act/Sherbrooke Declaration stuff is the kind of issue that will have a visceral impact on most Canadians.

    Pandering to separatists has never been a winning strategy for federalist parties in Quebec. Quite the opposite: it destroyed Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives, it destroyed federal Social Credit before them, and I am pretty confident that it will destroy the NDP too.

    I believe that positioning itself as the true, strong federalist alternative in Quebec is the best strategy the Liberal party can pursue, both for itself and for the country as a whole. Nobody will ever forget that it was the Liberals who were responsible for patriating the Constitution: it's up to Liberals to point out that it was actually a very good thing, not the horrible betrayal that separatist hate-propaganda makes it out to be.

    In the next election after introducing the Clarity Act, the Liberal party's share of Quebec seats went up by ten. That's worth thinking about.

    By Blogger Vancouverois, at 12:02 PM  

  • I don't disagree on the potential relevance positioning oneself as the federalist alternative - that may have electoral merit - but in terms of electoral benefit of the Act itself, outside of some anglo West Island seats I think that ship has largely sailed. The Act was created for a specific time and place and its relevance is waning because the context has changed.

    Patriation is the perfect example. You're right, few will forget who was responsible for the patriation of the Constitution - because to maybe two-and-a-half generations-worth of Canadians didn't know about it in order to be able to forget about it, let alone positively/negatively judge its historical and current implications. And it's unlikely that it will enter into the electoral calculus for those who happen to remember.

    I think we're entering into a new paradigm of ambivalence, on both sides of the debate. Recirculating the fumes of Constitutional policies seems pretty uninspriring to me. But who knows, I might be wrong. Heck, I'm wrong a lot!

    [As to hoosier, I wasn't talking about Meech (if you're responding to me.) Meech had much broader implications to each of the provinces.]

    By Anonymous Marc, of soccer no longer, at 2:12 PM  

  • Oops left out

    Re: "Recirculating the fumes of Constitutional policies seems pretty uninspriring to me."

    I mean OLD Constitutional debates of the past, like the Act and Sherbrooke (which are niche) or patriation, which is just so long ago.

    By Anonymous Marc, once of soccer, at 2:14 PM  

  • @Marc: So long as the separatists keep harping on the Patriation and falsely depicting it as a horrible betrayal, I think it's very much in the interests of the Liberal party to challenge that misrepresentation of history. Because it has a profound effect on how people vote even now.

    Today there were reports of a poll showing that almost 45% of Quebeckers would be in favour of independence if the Constitution isn't amended in Quebec's favour. I have to wonder, though: do any of those who said they wanted such amendments specify exactly what they wanted amended?

    Everybody seems to have bought in to this story - first advanced by the Bloc while they were still part of the Mulroney PCs - that Quebec lost significant powers in 1982. It's just taken for granted. But if you stopped the average Quebecker on the street and asked him or her what those powers supposedly were and how their loss supposedly impact his/her life, how many would be able to give a sensible answer?

    By Blogger Vancouverois, at 7:18 PM  

  • Did the polls actually use the word "independence", or was it a soft-sell, vague phrase like "sovereignty-association"?

    By Anonymous Jim R, at 8:40 PM  

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