Lawrence Martin sees difficult times ahead for the NDP. He writes that, even with their considerable numbers and their beach head in Quebec, the left has dreams, Harper has the cards. The evidence is compelling:
Just like the Liberals, the New Democrats are at a huge financial disadvantage. When the Conservatives feel so inclined, they’ll strike with brutal advertising that the NDP won’t have the resources to rebut. Does anyone think Thomas Mulcair’s outburst about Osama bin Laden won’t be aired countless times when the appropriate moment arrives? Or Jack Layton’s massage-parlour visit? Don’t put it past the Conservatives.
The Conservative advantage in the media is staggering. Beyond the Toronto Star, which is more Liberal than NDP, do the New Democrats have even one backer, one standard bearer, among major Canadian outlets? By contrast, the Conservatives have squadrons, not the least of which is Sun Media, which now has a television network (run by one of Mr. Harper’s former public-relations directors) devoted to the conservative cause.
The NDP has two advantages. It has ideas and the support of the young. Neither should be underestimated:
Young Canadians have become more politically engaged, and the New Democrats have a big slice of that market. The Dippers are out front of the Conservatives on green issues and health care. They’re out front on representing the proverbial little guy. If they handle it properly, they can make the issue of growing income inequality – the egregious gap between rich and poor – a front-burner issue, as opposed to a tiresome cliché.
The Conservatives have said absolutely nothing about income inequality. In fact, their policies -- and statistics -- continue to support it. But, as the young continue to find doors closed to them, and while the income gap between their parents and themselves continues to grow, "the Harper government"-- which presently thinks it is in the cat bird seat -- will find itself the target of youthful rage. Mr. Harper, whose foreign policy takes no note of Arab aspirations, seems to have forgotten that the Arab Spring grew out of the frustration of a younger, educated generation to find its place in a top down society.
If income inequality continues to grow in Canada, Stephen Harper will eventually face his own crowds of protesters. Despite the money and the media, as Victor Hugo noted, "There is nothing so powerful an an idea whose time has come." A Just Future with a Just Income is just such an idea.