10.14.2013 06:44 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: he ain’t Jack

Poking through the electoral entrails, looking for the federal angle, editorialists and opinion-opiners always assign far too much importance to (a) byelections, and (b) provincial elections.

It’s ill-advised, because (a) byelections are lousy predictors of future general-election voter behaviour, and (b) in Canada, federal and provincial political parties generally share only their names.

There is, for instance, absolutely no connection — zero, zippo, zilch — between federal and provincial Liberals and Conservatives.

Alison Redford and Stephen Harper? Christy Clark and Justin Trudeau? They are, respectively, Conservatives and Liberals who have nothing in common, with the possible exception of mutual disdain.

There is one political party, however, that is the same party federally and provincially: The New Democrats. In Ottawa, and in places like Nova Scotia, they are one big, happy social democratic family.

Well, sort of. Last week, of course, the NDP’s first government east of Ontario had its keester kicked, hard. New Democrat Premier Darrell Dexter, once a shining star in the federal NDP firmament, saw his majority government reduced to ignominious third-party status in the Nova Scotia legislature. And he lost his own seat.

There are all sorts of reasons why the Liberal’s sober, solid Stephen McNeil won big. Dexter said he wouldn’t raise taxes, for example, and he did. He said he had a budgetary surplus when, by most accounts, he didn’t. And he gifted the Irvings — one of the country’s richest families — with $300 million in Nova Scotia tax dollars, in addition to a multi-billion dollar federal ship-building contract.

All of those things hurt. But by my reckoning, there was something else that hurt the Nova Scotia NDP, too. And that was that their federal leader was Thomas Mulcair, and not Jack Layton.

Jack Layton possessed the rarest of political assets: He was much-liked and, in some cases, actually adored.

He was a genial, easy-going guy. And he was federal leader when Dexter was elected in 2009. Everywhere Jack went in that year, he cast a warm orange glow over New Democratic fortunes.

His successor, however, could not be more different. Angry Tom, Mulcair is called, because he is. Humourless, pitiless, bloodless: With his patrician beard, and his irritated disposition, Mulcair has unmade all of Layton’s good works.

The NDP could not have picked a leader more unlike Jack Layton if they tried (and they did).

Mulcair did not go anywhere near the Nova Scotia election campaign. Justin Trudeau did, however, and provincial Liberals say he helped them win plenty of seats.

The likeable Conservative leader, Jamie Baillie, trumpeted his connections to Stephen Harper everywhere he went, and he wasn’t punished for doing so — he, in fact, will now be leader of the Opposition in Nova Scotia’s legislature.

It isn’t hard to feel some sympathy for Darrell Dexter. He tried to be a businesslike New Democrat, in the Roy Romanow mould. For his trouble, he alienated his own base, and he never achieved the trust of the Halifax-centred business community.

On election night, as he surveyed the wreckage that was his party, Dexter deserved condolences, not contempt.

Thomas Mulcair? Well, New Democrats picked him, and they shouldn’t have. Soon enough, they are going to rue their choice, both (a) federally, and (b) provincially.


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Arnold Murphy says:

    The biggest difference I think between what we can expect from Canadians on the NDP front is this. The last two times, with Jack the people were somewhat enamored or smitten with the likeable fellow, I liked him, thought him to be sincere and a fresh breath of air and the NDP profited from that. They also profited from a certain amount of a Laissez-faire attitude by Canadians, some actually thought Harper could do no wrong. Well today we know better, Harper in his incremental method has crossed several lines not the least of them the Rubicon. That line between being a citizen who cherishes the historical Canada defined by the works of altruism and bent on lifting Canadians and the not so Canadian nationalist who identifies and exemplifies all that we as Canadians fear and hate. Be it the contempt for Veterans, engaging in a war of austerity on the citizens or selling off the assets and crown jewels that are Canada’s resources to the highest bidder while simultaneously promoting a slave system founded on foreign workers willing to do whatever they are told without question or contention Harper has engaged Canadians as few other Prime Ministers have. And in the end, what it leaves is a palpable fear and loathing in Canadian hearts, that fear and loathing that is the difference. There is no Laissez-faire attitude this time, the fronts are forming and with an election the people will be empowered and they need to feel some sense of power they need to be able to strike back. Like a man taking a beating, who has almost reached his limit but has found two things a weapon with which to respond and the sudden will to use it Canadian citizens are about to exercise their right to vote well before Stephen Harper can take it away.

    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      steve says:

      makes perfect sense to me. From coast to coast, in every demographic is a feeling we are losing what it means to be Canadian. Much of this is not Harpers fault, but he willl be the lightning rod that will be melted next election.

  2. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Duane says:

    Pretty much bang on. It will be interesting to what happens Federally in Quebec between now and the next election. Will the NDP hold the majority of the seats they won in the last election, or will the Liberals return to their glory days,or will there be another BQ type party rise up. Given the current political climate, I believe we are headed to another minority government and that the PM will most likely not run in 2015.

  3. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Kyle H says:

    Those are a lot of assumptions based on a lot of nothing, Gaspar.

  4. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    For your Bloc narrative to be correct, Pauline has to win big (and not just a bare majority) in the upcoming election. And just how do you propose she does that??? On her dazzling economic record — or better yet, running on the empty fumes of the poisoned chalice otherwise known as the Values Charter. The electorate will run not walk in Couillard’s direction. Wait and see.

  5. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Sean says:

    No one will ever be Jack. Actually, in an odd way, Jack Layton was never really “Jack”. I never understood all the silly, touchy feely, lovey dovey happy shit about Layton’s legacy. To me he will remain one of the most angry, bitter, myopic, hypocritical, sleazy, opportunist, hateful Canadian leaders who ever lived.

  6. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Skinny Dipper says:

    Warren, no new leader of the NDP can be like Jack Layton. If that were the case, then I would expect all new leaders of the Liberal Party to be like Stéphane Dion.

    Jack Layton was a very good leader for the NDP. Unfortunately, he is gone from us. There is nothing we can do about that. The NDP has Tom Mulcair as its leader. I do not expect Mr. Mulcair to be a carbon copy of Jack. I know that Mr. Mulcair has a beard. That’s disappointing for you. Personally, I was hoping that the NDP had chosen some woman with big gazombas. I know its superficial of me. Then again, the NDP is stuck with a leader who has a beard.

    Should I assume that the NDP members should have supported Nathan Cullen as the new leader? Mr. Cullen is a nice guy. He wanted some co-operation thingy with the Liberals. While that would have been good for the Liberals and the left-of-centre in general, it would have moved the NDP into oblivion. Warren, I think you know this.

    Tom Mulcair and the NDP may be lower in the polls than Trudeau and the Liberals. However, I think you know not to underestimate Mr. Mulcair. He will fight hard against the Conservatives in the next election campaign. That is why you want to create doubt about him now.

  7. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    steve says:

    Jack will always be the villain who brought Harper to power in my estimation. He gambled and lost. Perhaps had he not passed he may have become PM in 2015, but the decade of damage he gifted to Harper can not be forgotten,

  8. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Tiem says:

    Gaspard =Pierre Poutine…definitely not ‘pure laine’…too many political pundit and French language errors .

  9. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Lance says:

    Yep, come redistribution, the Laurentian Lock is over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.