At the end of the last election campaign, the Liberals knew that the wind was at their backs. The Conservatives knew that the game was over. But Tom Mulcair's New Democrats thought that they would do well -- particularly in Quebec. Gerry Caplan writes:
The leader waxed excitedly about the huge turnout for his meetings in Quebec, surely presaging the NDP’s second successive sweep of the province. A senior adviser assured anguished New Democrats that 50 Quebec seats were in the bag. Since virtually every public poll agreed the NDP was by then chopped liver, partisans listened but more plausibly believed the campaign was now totally delusional.
Last October, instead of 50 seats as the campaign leaders believed, the NDP won 16. It seems those running the campaign had pretty well lost touch with reality. Campaign bubbles can do that.Last week a new poll suggested that the Liberals were still flying high. They had 49 per cent approval, the Conservatives were holding at 32 per cent. The NDP had plummeted from the 19 per cent it received in the election to a derisory 10 per cent. Only twice before in its 54-year history, in the elections of 1993 and 2000, has the NDP ever sunk this low.
Caplan believes that Mulcair's leadership won't be challenged at the party's upcoming convention. But he also believes that Mulcair would do well to consider radically different policies from those he was selling last fall:
I continue to be obsessed with how little new thinking is being done to help us confront the vast challenges we face. Everyone knows what they are. No one seems to have creative solutions or policies for them. Bernie Sanders’s resurrection of democratic socialism in the United States offers, I’m afraid, little more than the welfare state. In much of Europe, the refugee/immigration crisis has given rise to semi-fascism that has intimidated most social-democratic parties.Has the great history of socialism no insights to offer us at a critical time like this? Is Tom Mulcair thinking about such issues? Does he have a plan to restore the party’s confidence in him? We will know soon enough. That means April in Edmonton.
April in Edmonton could get very interesting -- if the party is genuinely interested in renewal.