Thursday, June 02, 2016

A Tale Of Two Parties

Chantal Hebert writes that the recent NDP and Conservative conventions provide a study in contrasts:

  • The party that Harper is leaving behind is a different, more mature creature than the collection of fractious factions that came together under his leadership in 2003. A decade in power has made its members more inclined to pragmatism than to protest. Some of that was on evidence on the weekend as the Conservatives belatedly aligned party policy with Canadian legal reality on same-sex marriage and endorsed the partial decriminalization of marijuana.
  • The federal NDP has never experienced the transformative discipline of power. Its dominant opposition culture has long been at odds with that of the provincial New Democrats, who have spent time on the governing side of politics. Many federal activists see the role of permanent underdog as more virtuous than that of top dog. They were always suspicious of Jack Layton and Mulcair’s efforts to make the party a more viable governing alternative.
  • Harper’s political career ended just as abruptly as Mulcair’s, but it was voters who wielded the knife. The election defeat spared the Conservatives the kind of behind-the-scenes regicide attempts that leave hard-to-heal divisions within a political family.
  • The issue of Mulcair’s leadership split the Edmonton convention right down the middle. The New Democrats left town after their convention with virtual blood on their hands. It was an unprecedented episode in the history of the federal party that will overshadow his succession.

At the moment, the NDP is in disarray. The Conservatives appear to be in better shape. But the upcoming leadership campaign could expose many old wounds. And, until the Dippers choose a new leader, it will be hard to chart their future.

However, it would be foolish to count either party out. Five years ago, Peter C. Newman wrote an obituary for the Liberal Party. No one should be writing obituaries.



Dana said...

Without a return to some kind of consistent and insistent progressive clarity it's entirely possible that, as the Green Party gains traction, the NDP will become the irrelevant rump of Canadian political life on the federal level.

That would be sad.

Owen Gray said...

It would, indeed, be very sad, Dana. A lot depends on who the party chooses as leader.

Steve said...

The NDP is the left wing of the Federal Liberals who are almost conservative.
It worked somewhat. But failed miserable in NAFTA and Climate Change.

Owen Gray said...

Historically, the Liberals have campaigned from the left and governed from the Right, Steve. The NDP has always been there to push them to the Left. If the Dippers go down, the pull will only be from the Right.

Steve said...

such a strong argument for prop rep

Owen Gray said...

Exactly , Steve. And, now that the Liberals have surrendered their majority on the committee, we may be one step closer to getting it.

Anonymous said...

Chantal Hebert wrongly wrote: "The Conservatives belatedly aligned party policy with Canadian legal reality on same-sex marriage." Umm... NO!

The CPC downloaded onto the grassroots the responsibility to be reprehensible.

Gay? Want a wedding cake? CPC says NO!

The CPC policy has not changed, it has just gone underground in a sad game of whack-A-mole.

Do you people not read the source documents?

Owen Gray said...

The announcement is full of weasel words, Anon. Essentially the party has adopted the position of American conservatives -- in states like North Carolina -- on the issue of transgender washrooms. In effect, they're still ignoring the Supreme Court's ruling.

Anonymous said...

Essentially the party has adopted the position of American conservatives...

I see it, you see it, but the corporate media - here in the guise of Chantal Hebert - refuses to acknowledge it and instead trumpets the CPC's march into the 21st Century.

Owen Gray said...

But, as usual, the party's sense of direction is faulty, Anon. Ms. Hebert is usually much more perceptive.