06.01.2011 07:59 AM

How the NDP will doom itself

In one easy lesson:

QUEBEC — Former prime minister Jean Chretien says he’s disturbed by the NDP’s “ambiguity” on national unity and its willingness to resurrect the debate over the Constitution.

He was referring to an NDP caucus that suddenly includes sympathizers of Quebec independence and is the first pan-Canadian party to oppose the Clarity Act, Chretien’s landmark law which sets rules for a future referendum.

“Obviously, there’s some ambiguity and I see they’ve started to talk about the Constitution again since the election,” Chretien said during a visit to Quebec City.

“I said in 1993: ‘If you want to talk about the Constitution, vote against me because I won’t go there. There are other problems than that.’ “

Jack Layton has said the NDP would support a simple majority win in a sovereignty referendum.



  1. Dave Roberts says:

    The NDP caucus will eventually split over this issue with the result the party will split ala Social Credit/Creditiste.

  2. Bubba says:

    Your headline says it exactly – ConYou Jack would have had a hard enough time presenting an effective opposition just dealing with the loose cannon loony left faction of his party but slapping on the make-up, wig, falsies and fake eyelashes to bat oh so coyishly at the Quebec separatists is the most ass-backwards way of trying to build national support for an alternative government I could think of. To mangle Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Liberal party are greatly exaggerated – the wheels will come off the tricycles in the kindergarten on Parliament Hill PDQ.

  3. Paul R Martin says:

    This is obviously a big area of weakness for the NDP. Going to a dance with the separatists will not sit well with the rest of the country. The Conservatives also plan to increase the membership of the house by 30 seats. Layton will protest because Quebec will get none and will lose influence. The rest of the country will turn a deaf ear to his protest. As a Conservative, I can’t stand the NDP party. In the long run, the NDP flirtation with the separatist elements in Quebec will not turn out well for the Dippers. I would not be surprised if the NDP eventually splits into 2 parts.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Layton has no choice. He loves Stornoway too much. He is going to copy Mulroney’s strategy — just watch.

  5. Sean says:

    Most people who voted NDP didn’t have the faintest clue of what they were voting for, only what they were voting against.

    • New Craig Chamberlain says:

      Nope. They knew exactly what they were doing. The separatists have taken their show on the road. Think of this term as Quebec’s nationalists’ road trip through Canada, riding on the NEW Democratic Party’s bus.

      (All things considered, WK, the word “New” actually rings true… finally.)

  6. Derek Pearce says:

    This, WK, is one of the main (if not THE main) reasons why a merger is not possible.

  7. Big Old Goofy Man says:

    Who cares what Cretien has to say anymore?

    • Warren says:

      Who cares what anonymous kooks think who can’t even spell?

      • chris says:

        ouch. did he hit a sore spot or did you get up on the wrong side of bed this morning

        • Attack! says:

          Dufus. If you ever worked for someone you respected & admired, then you’d probably object to someone mangling their name & saying ‘who cares what they think,’ too.

          • chris says:

            In fact, I think “Cretien” is one of the best Prime Ministers in my time. I think Chrétien and Trudeau have made Canada what it is and all that is going to be destroyed by the Cons. I was more joking with Warren then being a dufus. Too bad you have to “Attack” and be so aggressive.

        • Pedro says:

          Liberals haven’t seen the good side of the bed for a while now.
          Though crudely said, Big Old Goofy has somewhat of a point.

    • Tiger says:

      Three majorities — split opposition or not, he was winning rural Ontario ridings with over 50% of the vote — and ten years as prime minister mean that when Jean Chretien speaks, people listen.

      Also, this:

    • Sean says:

      Chretien is the smartest living political strategist in Canada.

      • AB Observer says:

        I would argue that Stephen Harper is the smartest political strategist. Chretien was good, but Harper survived minority governments, plus gained a majority. Plus cutting party subsidies, which will effectively kill the rump that is left of the LPC. Chretien could never kill off the Reform, CA or the united Conservatives.

        My score sheet reads Harper 7 Chretien 5

        • kitt says:

          At least Chretien didn’t have to lie to get elected or run a big deficit to promote himself with tv ads ;p On lies and crookedness – Harper 7 Chretien 0

        • Tiger says:

          Agreed about Harper having to manage a much trickier and delicate task as party leader than Chretien did in his road to becoming a majority PM.

          Don’t know if that reflects who’s better, tho’ — Chretien simply didn’t have that (Herculean) task before him — all he could do is win, and win, and win.

          See Wells on Harper and Chretien, in the opening of this article —

  8. John says:

    Any talk of Quebec separation will hurt the Canadian dollar which in turn will kill Quebec’s chances of getting their NHL team back. The strength of the dollar is the biggest reason Canadian owners can afford American dollar NHL salaries.

    • Ed says:

      Wow. I hadn’t thought of this. This is probably the best argument for why it is in Quebec’s interest to stay a part of Canada!! I love the uniting powers of hockey in this country

  9. Michael says:

    “Jack Layton has said the NDP would support a simple majority win in a sovereignty referendum.”

    That is what Jack Layton says in Quebec. In the rest of Canada it is a different story. In the rest of Canada he supports the Clarity Act.

    This is not going to be a happy ending for Jack.

  10. Cath says:

    When the NDP implodes federally, as it’s beginning to do already there’s going to be a window of opportunity to fill the void with a renewed LPOC vision, definition that comes without those who might continue to drag you down.

    Layton could be that gift to both the LPOC and CPC that just keeps on giving.

  11. JH says:

    Mulcair’s pretty erratic, egocentric, has a short fuse and is the undisputed leader of the NDP’s Quebec Caucus.
    The similarities are striking and I think he’ll be Layton’s Lucien Bouchard.
    I look for a Bloc Democratique Quebecois to be part of the landscape in the not so distant future.

    • Ted says:

      Difficult dynamic to have the head of a Quebec caucus that is a large majority of the entire caucus.

      The idea of a Bloc Democratique Quebecois, though, would be very interesting and frankly in Quebec’s interest and to some degree in the nation’s interest: to have a regionally focused party that was not also intent on breaking up the country. Other parties could comfortably work with that party, compromise on the issues they advocated for, even form coalitions with them.

      • JH says:

        I would not bet my last dollar on it not being intent on breaking up the country, once it got feeling its oats. Like I said Mulcair’s pretty erratic anyway and Quebecers can turn on a dime. If Ottawa committed a supposed grave ‘insult’ to Le Peuple Quebecois that’s all it would take. This is a province that looks for an excuse to be offended, so it can threaten blackmail. And Mulcair looks to be ready to lead any parade that also leads to his own self aggrandizement.

        • Ted says:

          Hard to see Mulcair as a separatist given his prior positions and in particular campaign pretty hard for the “no” side in 1995. If anyone was going to be a traitor, er, separatist then that was the time. I don’t particularly like Mulcair and think his Sherbrooke Declaration is very bad for Canada, but I don’t need to go so far as to question his patriotism.

  12. Rick T. says:


    If this guy had two clues he would be dangerous. It’s just idle talk, the rest of Canada knows hes a joke and will not take him seriously.

    Quebec will never separate because where would their free lunch come from?

  13. Tiger says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how far the NDP caucus in English Canada is willing to go with the Quebec nationalist wing of the NDP.

    Very much like the Mulroney years, except without the additional shattering factor of holding government and being held accountable for it.

    • The Doctor says:

      You could even argue that the Mulroney Tories at least had a policy that the party was able to get behind, at least at first: Meech Lake. Layton probably doesn’t even have that even out of the starting blocks. The LPC should be hammering Layton and his caucus with this at every opportunity.

      • Tiger says:

        It has the advantage of being something that they and their grassroots honestly, earnestly believe, and differ with the Dippers over.

        Posts like this, and statements like Chretien’s — those are parts of said hammering, I think.

  14. Tiger says:

    On that note, Chretien will be on Newsworld next hour.

    Was there ever a Canadian tradition of silence?

    Historically, defeated PMs stuck around in opposition, and retired ones died in short order.

    In recent times… Trudeau came back to kill Meech; Mulroney speaks up from time to time, Campbell vanished, Chretien has the sort of role Clinton did for the Dems pre-Obama, and Martin … Martin complains about Kelowna and national daycare every so often.

    Can’t think of ex-PMs who stayed silent… Borden, maybe. And Bennett went off to sit in the Lords.

  15. Attack! says:

    Shall we add the Dean of the Reform / Alliance / CCRAP movement to your list of “decaying legacies” then, too, since Presto’s not above piping up every now and again, as well?

    On this very issue, in fact:

    “Harper appointees on track for Senate reform, Manning says”


    • Attack! says:

      oops, on the _other_ issue afoot today, but still: your current party’s major ex-leader’s lips aren’t sealed, either.

  16. Jeff Wells says:

    It’s the Liberals who are wishfully stirring the disunity pot to undo their third-party nightmare. Asymmetrical federalism has been NDP policy for years; it’s a revelation only to pundits who weren’t paying attention and are now trying to make a wedge where there isn’t one.

    He who smells doom, dealt doom.

  17. Ted says:

    So you are either one of those people – I heard there still were some out there – who think there was some sort of deal or compromise or promise that could have gotten Levesque to agree or one of those people – I know there are many of these but I thought they were all separatists – who think no deal should be struck unless Quebec is completely happy.

    Unfortunately, we do live in a real world.

    • sharonapple88 says:

      This opens the question of whether the Constitution would have been signed by Bourassa (Quebec Liberal leader)… going by Victoria, 1971 and an account in The Last Act by Ron Graham, probably not.

      • Ted says:

        But he would have negotiated and a compromise solution was clearly possible with him because a compromise solution was found with him by Mulroney.

        It’s living in fantasyland to say Trudeau was intolerant and impatient and created a train wreck by moving forward without Levesque.

        • sharonapple88 says:

          Granted, Bourassa was preferable to Levesque in that there was a chance to work with him. Levesque’s people openly said they wanted to scuttle the Constitution.

          As for being impatient, the Constitution was something Trudeau had been trying for since he became Prime Minister. There were a number of failed talks and agreements before 1982. People should also keep in mind that since 1927, the Federal government had been trying to patriate the Constitution. If it didn’t get signed in 1982, there was the real possibility it might never have gone through.

  18. bza says:

    Its interesting that the doom and gloom is coming from everyone who did not support the NDP and wishing that the party will implode. I think Liberals will have to try harder then that in order to renew itself, since its mostly wishful thinking.

    The party is pretty united and we will see that with the upcoming convention in June and over the next 4 years. There is no leadership feud, the party is united and content with Mr. Layton’s leadership, and the party is fully aware of its stance on Quebec as this has been party policy for more then 5 years.

    Jack Layton’s position on the constitution is also being overstated as well I think. Yes, he would like to get Quebec to sign, though that does not mean the constitution will be opened no matter what the conditions are. The conditions have to be right and the provinces will have to be in agreement that negotiations can actually occur. If those conditions are not there, the constitution will not be reopened for discussion.

    The reason why Mr. Chretien did not pursue further constitutional talks with the provinces was because Meech Lake, the Charlottetown Accords, and the 2nd referendum, were all far too recent. I would agree that it was not the right time to hold constitutional talks right after the referendum, but a lot of time has passed since 1995.

    If the NDP form a government in 2015, it will have been 20 years since the last referendum, 23 years since the last constitutional talks, and 35 years since the constitution was signed without Quebec agreeing to it. With that passage of time, and with the old guard from the past are no longer there to refight old battles, it could be the right time to hold talks, or not. The difference between the NDP, Liebrals, and Conservatives really comes down to a hypothetical willingness to consider holding talks if the time and conditions is right and the provinces are on board.

    • sharonapple88 says:

      The difference between the NDP, Liebrals, and Conservatives really comes down to a hypothetical willingness to consider holding talks if the time and conditions is right and the provinces are on board..

      I don’t think anyone would be against talks if the time and conditions were right and the provinces were onboard. But if we’re going to wait for this, it’s never going to happen. Someone has to organize the Premiers. Someone has to balance the requests. No one’s going to come to the table and talk about the Constitution. Someone, the Prime Minister, has to make it happen.

  19. Joey Rapaport says:

    Agree with WK, NDP is a 1 hit wonder, need a stronger 2 party system that includes the Liberals and Cons… God help us if we ever get an NDP government, whatta an effn joke!

    • Africon says:

      Underestimating your opponent – worst mistake any Party can make – Libs take note.

      Fat Rob Ford, Reformatories, Timmy = dumb dumb dumb – feels good will get you nowhere..

      I think that Dippers are idiots but does that really make them idiots ?
      Besides, when one considers the political savvy of most voters just how important is that anyway ?

      In another 5- 10 years just how important will “preserving a language and culture” be ?
      The youth of today are butchering every language with texting and abbreviations but primarily a butchered English has become the International language of the computer culture.
      The Euro centered “progressives” of Quebec may not be looking so longingly at the mess that Europe appears to headed for.
      How in the world is Spain going to pay their mountainous debts with a 21% unemployment rate ?

  20. bruce the painter says:

    I dont understand Warren, are you for or against the merging of the Libs and NDP? I am a faithful follower of this site and a lifelong Liberal. Didnt you say before that a merger made sense? If it was true then, its just as true now. I should think we should be ripping Conservatives not NDPers. I’m 45 now, will I ever see a Liberal majority government again? For me a coalition of the left is the only way – no disrespect intended.

    • Warren says:

      Bruce, yes. Yes I am. But I try to be a realist at my advanced age. Layton is too strong to consider a merger for the next four years. Why would he do a deal with us? He doesn’t need us.

      Meanwhile, Harper is laughing his ass off.

      • Transplanted Doerite says:

        “Layton is too strong…Why would he do a deal with us?”

        True enough on the face of it, but is it really true and does it make any sense for the NDP to have that position?

        Now is the time to do it if your the NDP – from a position of strength. Hard to believe it’s not worth having some quiet conversations, but I’m not convinced Brian, Brad and Karl are smart enough or can wean themselves off the kool-aid long enough, to look at it dispassionately, which is to say, strategically.

        I hope there are people within the NDP advocating for merger, but I somehow doubt it. They may well come to regret the opportunity costs of not doing it.

        • Ted says:

          Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, it’s what they believe.

          Moreover, they believe they are on a clear path of ascendency. And frankly, given the polling results election after election under Layton, it is not hard to see why.

          The statistic I haven’t seen which would quickly put a pinprick in that inflated baloon is the popular vote growth numbers outside of Quebec and more specifically in each region outside Quebec. I know they went up, but how did they compare to the Liberals and how much did they go up.

          • Cath says:

            “Layton is too strong to consider a merger for the next four years.”

            Maybe for the moment but his Ego will trip him up. It’s bigger than any liberal or conservative leader, federal or provincial combined. On par with that Justin Beiber twit. I’m not as up in years as you guys but I don’t get the whole Beiber fever thing or that people think Layton’s the guy most want to have a beer with.
            Hell no…he’s probably make me foot the bill.

          • Ted says:

            He’d certainly push you out of the way if there was a camera around.


      • Kevin_B says:

        I am also in favour of a merger, but there are other options still:

        The elimination of the per vote subsidy removes a disincentive to not running a candidate in all ridings, clearing the way for a pact between Liberals and the NDP to only run one candidate between them in strategic ridings.

    • Michael says:

      It worked for the NDP. 😉 They left Harper alone and hammered away atthe Liberals.

  21. Phil in London says:

    If the earth stops spinning it will be these next few words from a nuckle dragging conservative like me. “Chretien is right”.

    To me the only time to have the constitution ratified in Quebec is when they sign on to the same deal the rest of the country accepted when it was repatriated.

    Let them come to TROC and say we want in. Otherwise accept their use of the constitution when convenient as their acceptance of same.

  22. Craig Chamberlain says:


  23. Transplanted Doerite says:

    Well they are consistent. And that’s my problem with the federal Dippers: they put consistently put “belief” (ideology) over facts, strategy and much, much else.

  24. Bil Huk says:

    the seperatist movement in quebec is far more cultural than technical. their signature or lack thereof on the the constitution is irrelevant. the threat of separation will be around for the rest of my lifetime regardless of who signs what.

    i feel Quebec and its affect on the rest of the country has changed alot since 1995. The west is at least financially more powerful than before (if not politically), Ontarians are starting to look at equalization differently than they used to given their own financial woes, and global power is shifting from the west to the east. People feel like they’re fighting harder for an ever shrinking piece of pie. Their reaction to separation threats may be different than it was last go around, and that may change the outcome.

    its going to take 4 years to see the full effect of the quebec caucus on the NDP, and vice versa frankly.

    I really don’t know how politically smart or dumb Jack Layton is yet. Harper has made a habit of doing unpopular things early and often so he can focus on building his success for the rest of the race. I’m personally not willing to say the NDP’s success is over just as it looks like they’re getting started.

    4 years is too long.

  25. Tom Thorne says:

    The NDP are ill prepared to deal effectively with separatism within their ranks. I have concluded that the NDP sweep in Quebec is a flash in the pan and with their soft views on separatism they are a dangerous flash in the pan.

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