09.12.2012 08:54 AM

Adams on Uniting the Left

Why it won’t happen:

“Because of a party tribalism and institutional self regard in which the interests of voters are barely considered.”

Yep. Some of us tried, however, and got nothing but shit and abuse for our trouble. So, the NDP has become my enemy again. Their choice.

Paul Adams’ book, meanwhile, is worth choosing. I plan to read it.


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    Kelly Oh says:

    So the NDP becomes your enemy again. And that reinforces the perception among the NDP that the Liberals are the enemy (we are going to leave aside for the moment that I think the better term is “opposition” rather than “enemy”…politics is not war by another means…but, again, I’m the naive child). And with both sides hunkering down in the trenches (and this war metaphor is about used up), supporters of a merger are marginalized.

    It makes sense in the short term to attack the NDP (or the Liberals). But it is folly. Unless one side is successful to the point of driving the other into the ground, the progressive vote is split and the progressives lose. There are those who promoted some form of cooperation (e.g. Cullen), so it isn’t as though there isn’t a chance to build up the idea of a merger within both parties despite the opposition of the leaders.

    Targeting the leadership of the party for failing to consider a merger is fine. But when I (as a NDP supporter) become a manifest threat to Canada’s unity, future cooperation with the Liberals is less appealing.

    But I could be wrong about all of this.

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      Warren says:

      Look, that’s all very nice. But Chretien, Broadbent, Romanow (and much, much, much lesser lights like me) tried, and your leader told us to go to Hell. He mocked the idea, repeatedly.

      So, we’re enemies again, with all that means. We didn’t want war, but your leader does.

      War it is. Guys like me will use every democratic means at our disposal to destroy your side. It’s nothing personal, it’s politics.

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        Kelly Oh says:

        Bonne chance.

        You are quite right that Chretien was trying. But where were the current leaders of the Liberal party?

        I’m not trying to suggest a different approach, but you (better than most) will recall what happened with Martin working to oust Chretien. So, by all means, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. You are very good at what you do, and may well drive the NDP into political oblivion. But when you have, what will be left when you turn your focus to the Conservatives? One victorious party, the tattered remnants of another, and a legion of supporters mourning the loss and not interested in supporting the alternative. The result is the same if the NDP somehow manage to overcome guys like you. It is a pyrrhic victory that sees the Conservatives ultimately win.

        Wow. This has taken a morose turn. So enough of this. You work on trying to destroy me. I am going to work on trying to convince you that isn’t the most efficient use of your time. If you win, I will gladly toast your victory and then commence complaining about the political landscape in Canada.

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        Np says:

        The metaphor of war may be played out but it’s apt. Kelly mentioned “hunkering down in the trenches” and I think that’s interesting imagery. The trench warfare of world war one was brought about when massive developments in firepower were not matched by a development in mobility. As a result, armies dug trenches, little land was ever gained or lost and millions of people were killed. It was attrition warfare and it ended when there was no one left to fight. Sound familiar?

        The similarities between this and modern politics are shocking. The trenches have long been dug along partisan lines but in the last federal election, (unlike so many battles in WW1) some ground actually changed hands. The Fed Grits lost a lot of ground in the last federal election and were pushed back deep into their territory by a strong Tory campaign on the right, an orange crush from the left, and (most importantly) attrition of support from within (many liberal voters just stayed home on e-day). So, in order to wage a proper counter attack and regain some territory, the Liberals need to improve their mobility, not their firepower. They need to use WW2 tactics and get out of the trenches.

        How do they do that? What I would say is this: The NDP numbers are artificially inflated right now because they wooed the fickle and volatile electorate of Quebec (they elected an 18 year old for god’s sake). That ‘strong hold’ can be re-taken with proper planning and effective messaging. In the rest of Canada, Liberal support needs to be re-established and re-invigorated. The Conservatives won a Majority but they are not ‘loved’ by the people. (If the PMO somehow changed its MO and became more magnanimous in its demeanor and communications strategy, it could solidify more support but this has not happened yet.) So, back to those damn trenches. If a solider runs across no-man’s-land, he promptly gets shot. If a WW1 tank rolls across NML, it kills a few more soldiers then it too gets killed. It’s too slow. What you need is a plane, something fast and sleek that can’t be shot from the ground. What that plane is, I don’t know. I’m not a political strategist. What I do know is this: if you guys want to run Justin across NML he’s going to get killed. Not because he’s not a good leader, but because that’s the nature of the game. As you said Warren, it’s nothing personal, it’s politics. He’s a brave and noble soldier at worst and a slow and steady tank at best. Neither one is going to get you your territory back, not for long anyway. You guys need to find your war plane. I would say your plane is to be found in the ideas and vision the Liberals put forth between now and the next election. It’s hard to shoot down a Spitfire with a British 303 and it’s even harder to tarnish ideas and vision with mudslinging. Find your plane Warren and take back the ground that’s rightfully Liberal. If you’re going to go to war with the NDP. Fight to win and shoot to kill.

        LOL, look who I’m telling this to…

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          Ken Klempner says:

          Kelly Oh, Just shift right a bit and squeeze out these liberals. Mulcair’s going to love being the ‘man’ so much so that he will understand quickly how easy it is to eliminate the LPC like they have in Britain as a fighting force.

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            Pete says:

            Is that so…are the Libs not part of the coalition government there?

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            Ken Klempner says:

            Pete, As I stated and how history unfolded; since WWII and to paraphrase Monty Python, the British Liberal party ‘cease to be’ a ‘fighting force’ or for that matter, it is an ‘ex party’. yes, yes, it’s part of a coalition….everyone has a vote. But this majestic political force, like here in Canada, lost it’s way, lack of focus or idealogue…and became ‘no more’.

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    Dan says:

    You’re failing to distinguish between NDP voters and NDP leaders.

    Okay, the NDP and Liberal leadership have both shut the door on a merger.

    So wouldn’t the next best thing be to go to the NDP and say “hey, you have a home here in the Liberal party”? Wouldn’t the next best thing be for the Liberal party to *become* the coalition party?

    Instead, I see Federal Liberals attacking cap-and-trade, Ontario Liberals insulting teachers, and Quebec Liberals calling the younger generation entitled. Meanwhile, I see a lot of Liberals giddy about turning their party into the Progressive Conservatives.

    That’s one way to build a progressive coalition. Shit on progressives until they realize the NDP is their only option.

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      Skinny Dipper says:

      When the Liberals are in power federally or provincially, I don’t see them proposing progressive coalitions with the NDP and Greens. In Ontario, not once have I heard McGuinty say to the NDP, let’s unite our parties so that we can keep out the Ontario Conservatives.

      I suspect that Liberals want to unite the “progressives”–not to defeat the Conservatives, but to delete the NDP which has become more powerful federally.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Skinny Dipper,

        Call it the arrogance of “second” place — when the Liberals are in it, the party hierarchy is tone deaf to merger or any other form of accommodation. As soon as the baton is passed to the NDP, their leadership instinctively follows the same game plan as the previous “second-best” party.

        Short answer: impressive brainpower seems to be in increasingly short supply the higher one ascends the rungs of the leadership ladder…

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    Malcolm says:

    What Yaffe’s article and these discussions don’t seem to contemplate are the very real differences in Liberal and NDP policies historically and even now. As a liberal I have big problems with the NDP’s views on the role of the federal gov’t and national unity, as well as deep reservations about the party’s connections to public sector unions. I am sure my dipper friends have similar concerns about grit ties to business and whatever else. Maybe these can be reconciled, or maybe not. But it’s not just the leadership that has reservations about any proposed merger.

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      Mulletaur says:

      What made the Liberals electable in the past is that they could gain the support of both public sector unions (or at least their membership) and business (or at least, people in business) at the same time. The federal NDP leadership understands this, and is trying desperately to appeal to small business – the petit bourgeoisie, if you will.

      In many ways, the federal NDP is trying to become what the federal Liberals were. They have had some success on the provincial level when they have governed like Liberals. Nevertheless, hard to see them ever winning big in Ontario, and without Ontario, ever winning power federally. Memories of the Rae government in Ontario are long.

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        Malcolm says:

        We’ll see if Tom Mulcaire dares to speak for Canada. The Sherbrooke Declaration seems to me to be more of a Head Waiter Training Manual. Sooner or later, the Federalist File rears its ugly head.

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    reformatory says:

    Why are the liberals in power in Ontario, not taking the lead and being an example and uniting the 2 forces right here in this province. That would then be a model for the federal party to act upon. WK has considerable clout in the OLP and so perhaps he can help facilitate this. Instead McGuinty is forming informal allegiances with the Hudak tories.

    hmm…. It would be in the liberals best interest to initiate that cooperative make-up first in Ontario where they could negotiate in a position of strength first as oppossed to trying it federally. After the next election when they are back in oppo then they can initiate a cooperation based on the one formed in Ontario first? Make sense to anyone?

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      Warren says:


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        reformatory says:

        the federal NDP said NO. Did Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP also say NO?

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          Sean says:

          hate to say, they’ve got ya there, Warren

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          Tiger says:

          The NDP’s a funny party — there are no federal and provincial wings. Just the NDP.

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    Jeremy says:

    It seems to me like it’s too soon to give up trying.

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    Chris says:

    Your leader Iggy said no to it.

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      Ken Klempner says:

      I don’t think WK is an Iffy/Iggy fan.

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        Skeeter says:

        So we can pick and choose depending on who we like? Kinda convenient way to dismiss iggy.

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      Kevin T. says:

      And we said no to him.

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    billg says:

    I dunno…I think the political landscape is perfect the way it is.
    Signed, a thankful Con.

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    Neil says:

    The leader of the provincial Liberals in Alberta proposed it a couple years ago. When the party was still the official opposition and the NDP was a 2 member rump. It was a formal offer to talk about cooperation or more. The provincial NDP (with the urging of Jack Layton) pissed on the offer. I use the word “pissed” on purpose as they were not in any way nice about it.
    Why should anyone assume the dippers will have a different response anywhere else.
    In that case the Libs had more money, members, MLA’s and were ahead in the polls and still the NDP was nasty.

    I think screw the dippers but a real true merger with the Green party is the way to go. By real, I mean embedding in the new party the green values and goals. I think it could work and could give Canadians a reason to take another look at the Liberals.

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    Mulletaur says:

    Please do share with us your plan for overcoming “party tribalism and institutional self regard”.

    The only method that has ever worked (viz. Conservative Party of Canada, UK Liberal Democrats, just to take two examples from the British parliamentary model) is creating one or more new parties, and slowly bleeding support from the old parties until one of the new ones becomes strong enough to absorb the rest and merger or simple disappearance of the old parties becomes inevitable.

    Are you up to this, old friend ?

    It takes time, patience and a lot of persistence – oh, and I forgot, money.

    And you will be considered a traitor by many of your old Party friends. It will mean killing off once and for all the Liberal Party of Canada you so love – or, perhaps more appropriately, finally burying its corpse.

    If you’re in, I am.

    If you want it to happen that badly, up to you to show some leadership.

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    Ken Klempner says:

    Thank God Justin Trudeau – T2 – is on the stage. He will sort things out. He’s the messiah (what another one?) we have been waiting for… His intellect and poise will gobble up Mulcair and those dippers who do not want to merge. T2’s message will be so succinct and powerful that people with flock to the LPC in droves.

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    Philippe says:

    Mulclair is still under some orgasmic illusion that he can win power on his own. Personal ambition trumps logic & the good of the country.

    We all know what’s going to happen. Trudeau will do well, split the vote with the NDP, allowing another Conservative majority. The merger will happen then.

    Sad part is that’s another 5 years of Conservative rule. By that time, Canada will have gone from one of the “coolest and well liked countries in the world” to a hated pariah on the international stage & the national discrepancy between rich & poor will have grown wide enough to sow social disruption à la USA. The angry screaming white guys that love their Cons will reap what they sow.

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      Cromwell says:

      Being hated internationally will be good for Canada, we will finally grow up as a nation. It may also encourage Quebec to separate, but hey, c’est la vie.

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    Michael Bussiere says:

    I wonder if the NDP would be prepared to sideline its nutbar fringe as Harper did. And yes, they have a nutbar fringe. An NDP campaigner once came to my door and berated me for having a Liberal lawn sign. He informed me I hated the planet and refused to leave as he claimed he did not believe in the private ownership of property.

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    The Dude says:

    “Tribalism” is exactly what’s wrong. The Sherbrooke declaration is an example of how dangerous this tribalism is. The NDP just needed to take a different path then the liberals just for the sake of it. Take away this tribalism and people like Trudeau, Mulcair, Cullen and Rae etc don’t seem THAT diffferent.

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    mike says:

    ” in which the interests of voters are barely considered.”

    i am beginning to doubt that neither the ndp or the libs are fit to serve either.
    if they are unable to coalesce under a single banner against a common enemy when the essence of canada hangs in the balance neither one of them deserve a vote.

    seriously if your first policy announcement on both sides virtually guarantees a conservative victory ….why bother ?

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