07.21.2014 01:29 PM

Free advice to New Democrats

Sure, you lost the Ontario election, and the Trinity-Spadina by-election. Sure.

• Suck it up. Your brand still has value. That’s why federal and provincial Grits needed to kick the crap out of you – your brand had value.
• It wasn’t easy for them. They had to devote a lot of resources to doing that – because, again, you guys represent a real and manifest threat to Liberals in urban Ontario.
• You’re down this Summer, sure, and you’re licking your wounds. But you’ll be back – if you have discipline and conviction.

Take it from this Chretien and McGuinty Liberal: people will write your obituary a million times. Your job is to wipe your feet with the obituaries, and find your passion again.

Both those guys, who I was privileged to work for from 1993 to 2013, were written off many, many times. They came back.

You can, too, Dippers. Now quit your moping.


  1. doconnor says:

    “discipline and conviction” Are those contradictory?

    Having discipline means following the party line, which for free-thinking New Democratic, is often somewhat different then their convictions.

    Having conviction means following your beliefs which are a little different for every New Democratic.

    It’s easier on the right because trusting the authorities is their conviction.

    • sezme says:

      That’s a narrow definition of discipline. It also means getting out of bed every day to do the work that needs to be done even if it feels that all the cards are stacked against you, the kind of discipline Brazil will need to win the World Cup again. I think that’s the kind of discipline Warren was referring to.

    • Tiger says:

      Nah, it’s just as hard on the right.

      Who are the big tribes? Libertarians and social conservatives. (Not as many hawks in Canada; our conservatism has two legs, not three. Attempting to grow a third leg with New Canadians, but we’ll see if that can outlive Jason Kenney’s time as a minister.)

      Libertarians by their very nature hate the authorities. Social conservatives hate the authorities when they’re spreading social liberalism, which they kinda are at this point — even in a Conservative government.

      Now, of course a large number of them are able to paper over the differences — there would be no Conservative Party otherwise. But a number do not, and have left the party.

      If the Dippers can suck it up and rally, they’ll be back. Which, of course, would warm my cold blue Tory heart if it happens at the federal level before October 2015.

      • doconnor says:

        There aren’t many Libertarians in Canada either. They are mostly fiscal conservatives who don’t like government debt because credit card debt is bad, without noticing they they have a huge mortgage debt or most businesses have a lot of debt. They also don’t like taxes because they assume that all government money is wasted because that is all they hear about on the news, even through it represents a fraction of 1% of government spending.

    • Replace the word discipline with “solidarity” then. It’s still basically the same point. No-one ever won any struggle without it.

      • doconnor says:

        Solidarity is a good word. You don’t have to agree about everything to have solidarity, you just have to care. Horwath lack of solidarity with the poor during the last election was one of the sources of her problems.

  2. Michael says:

    The problem is that the leaders of the ONDP and the NDP have strayed from the brand. Instead of standing by the principles that were the NDP brand, they have tried to move to the centre with pocketbook issues

    • doconnor says:

      The leaders probably think that if the NDP sticks to their brand they will stick to third place. If this was retail, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it First Past the Post, third place gets you next to nothing.

  3. Ridiculosity says:

    The real problem?

    Unfortunately, NDP now seems to stand for No Damn Platform.

  4. doris says:

    The real problem is the advise being given to the dippers mainly by the people who will never vote for them

  5. RonaldO says:

    Uniting the Left will not come from the current Lib and Dip federal parties. They are chewing at each others hind quarters and bleeding all over each other.

    Mulcair hates Trudeau with a passion and a merger is impossible with these two quebecois leaders. The only way the Left can unite if Canadians overwhelmingly vote Conservative thus decimating the Libs and Dips and their current leaders discarded.

    A New Left will emerge once the federal Libs and Dips are eliminated in the 10/15 federal election… and a new centre-left leader emerges. Vote for Harper if you want a New Left.

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      That’s just stupid

      • RonaldO says:

        What’s “stupid” is the LPC and NDP fighting over the centre-left vote…. thus allowing the Harper Conservatives sail through to another majority government.

        It’s obvious that the LPC and NDP must be soundly defeated in 10/15, which will finally force them to merge into a New Left party to oppose the Old Right party… in 10/19 ….

        • doconnor says:

          What’s “stupid” is the first past the post elections that make reducing voter’s choice by merging parties seem like a good idea.

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            Exactly. Thanks doconnor

          • doconnor says:

            “thus no need for PR because with two major parties that’s what you get – a form of PR”

            Yes, a terrible form of PR that sometimes results in the less popular party getting elected (the US presidential election in 2000, the US House of Representatives election in 2012, BC in 1996, …) that is worse then FPP with multiple parties.

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          How is any of this obvious? You’re taking the idea that an ndp supporter and a liberal supporter are the same thing.

          They aren’t and this is still a stupid idea.

          Vote for Harper if you want. I’ll vote for the candidate in my riding who I’d like to represent me the best. Strategic voting doesn’t work, especially when tied to such a ridiculous concern troll type concept

          • RonaldO says:

            So you’re willing to vote generically Liberal or NDP and by default get an all-powerful PM Trudeau or Mulcair? People who only vote for their local candidates and disregard party leadership.. are asshats…!

    • Scotian says:


      I have read a lot of demented political theories in my day, but this is one of the more out there ones indeed.

      For one thing the Liberals and the NDP traditionally and realistically do not represent the “left” except as “left” of the CPC, not in terms of the more objective political spectrum. On that spectrum the NDP have traditionally been the hard left (but who under Layton and especially Muilcair have moved in many aspects towards the center) and the Liberals have mainly been the centrists, some of the time leaning more towards the center right, other times the center left, and never in either case has that lean been total, there was always a mix, just the proportion would change. THAT is why there is little likelihood of a merger between the parties, their core cultures are too different, they really do not stand for the same things, or at least didn’t used to, although with the way the new NDP has chosen to act they are moving towards the Liberals in terms of that political spectrum, but I rather doubt in the process they can keep much of their traditional base.

      This binary approach to politics is one embraced almost only by the extremes of either right or left in this country, but then for them it is truly us versus them, and “them” are not honourable opponents but the enemy to be destroyed. The reality is that the main reason the Liberals formed government so much of the time is because for the most part the Canadian electorate has tended to be centrist/pragmatists and not ideological in nature. This is not rocket science/news either. The only way Harper was able to gain power was to eliminate his rival on the right, and even then he had to hide his true political aims and objectives and run away from the positions he had held for 2 decades from the 80s until after the defeat in 2004. The reason why Harper may go down so hard in 2015 will have much more to do with his having revealed that true nature in the end and it being so repulsive to so many that they turn out to remove him, there is clearly the potential for a wave election next time out against the current government, and if it happens the Liberals are almost certainly going to be the main beneficiaries.

      The problem the NDP have now is that their letters stand for No Damned Principles anymore, they have sold out their traditional values and positions to try and supplant the federal Liberals over the past decade, that was the clear aim of Layton, and then Mulcair after he took over flush with the so called Orange wave gamechanger (I never agreed about the orange wave, I always saw it as a Jack wave, something very different). The move to the center was a calculated risk, because it may have increased the appeal to that centrist voter, but it also risked alienating those who had been loyal and steadfast to the NDP for years/decades. With Layton those folks could take on faith he would “do the right/Dipper thing” if he became PM, but Mulcair is a Quebec Liberal with no such strong connections to the NDP base community, and I think that is a real problem for holding that core while continuing the centrist approach. I think we are going to see more and more cracks appear, and the NDP is the party most likely at this point to suffer internal schism after the next election because of the choices they made over the past decade.

      So this notion that defeating the Libs and Dippers will be the creation of the new party of the left is yet another one of those weird fallacies, and comes off as a desperation hope/pitch by Harper/CPC supporters who feel the chill in their bones as they look at the political landscape for the next federal election.

      • sezme says:

        Also note, that as far as the orange wave/ Jack wave goes, there was also an Ignatieff vacuum.

        • Scotian says:


          True enough, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, he was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time! His one redeeming feature to me in that election cycle was that he was not Harper, not exactly a high bar to cross. He was the worst leader the Libs have ever put up in my lifetime, possibly in their history.

      • Nathan says:

        I’m glad you wrote this. I was going to make the same point.

        We also shouldn’t forget that the “Orange crush” was the result of the PQ rank and file abandoning the Bloc in favour of the NDP in exchange for a return to the idea of a 50% + 1 simple majority being the requirement for separation and a rejection of the clarity act. Heaven only knows what other riders were in that deal.

        The Piquists were playing chess and the NDP got in bed with them for a chance at power. It didn’t work. It remains to be seen if the couple will take another waltz next election or if the romance passed with Jack and his winning smile.

        • Scotian says:

          Indeed, Nathan, that pitch to the soft nationalist vote by Layton and the NDP really disgusted me. As my alias should make clear I’m a Nova Scotian, born and bred, so I’ve been acutely aware of the effects and actions of the Quebec Separatist movement since it first rose to Provincial power back n the 70s, because my region/home is one that would be most drastically affected if they ever succeeded. So I tend to notice whenever a national political party starts to pander to those who have done a lot of economic damage to my region just through the uncertainty of whether we would remain a contiguous part of the nation of Canada. It was clear just how far from principle the Layton NDP had moved once they embraced that decision, I think it was called the Sherbrooke declaration, just to try and continue their replace the Liberals movement in Canada, including Quebec.

          It will be very interesting to watch what happens in Quebec in the next election, I am expecting a sharp receding wave there for the NDP, who the beneficiaries will be, that is still up in the air, but I wouldn’t rule out the Libs, especially if they look strong elsewhere in the country, the Quebec electorate does have this tendency of liking to pick what they see as the winning side. The big question is just how much has the separatist vote truly collapsed in Quebec federally, was last time out an outlier, or is it consistent with a trend that appears to be forming, now that I think may be the most important aspect of the Quebec element of the next election. We shall see, but I do not expect it to be all that good for the NDP.

  6. Michael Bluth says:

    The NDP/CCF have existed going back to 1935. The NDP has been the party of the left in Canada for the entirety of that time. A united left hasn’t been seen as an issue for all but the last 8 1/2 of those years.

    The LPC has a decision to make. Does the party want to battle it out (merge?) with the NDP to be the party of the left in Canada, setting up a two-party system? Does it want to emphasize the centre in its centre-left positioning and hope to retain its former pre-dominance in Canadian politics?

    Harper’s remains in power as the option for increasingly more centrist voters.

    • Tiger says:

      Well, it’s been an issue — both Trudeau and Chretien toyed with the idea.

      In practice, Chretien temporarily united the centre-left vote in 1993 by nearly wiping out the NDP, when people were keen to get rid of a PC government.

      Trudeau may try the same. May succeed where Dion and Ignatieff failed, if people are sick enough of Harper.

      If, on the other hand, people agree with the CPC pitch (echoing 2008’s!) that “we are better off with Harper” next year, then the unite-the-left movement may well gain some ground in 2016-2018…

      • Michael Bluth says:

        Unless something bigger pops up in the next 15 months (and that’s entirely possible) the campaign will be hope and change vs. “JT ain’t ready”.

        Duffy is such a disgusting pig at the trough his hoggishness may not taint the CPC all that badly. A little digging by the cons to find some evidence of Duffy hitting up the Chretien or Martin crews for a senate appointment is likely to go a long way in defusing that time bomb.

        Maybe voters will simply be fed up with the Conservatives. Those who are will be looking hard at JT and Mulcair. Harper is a shrewd strategist and if he can make the ballot choice about JT’s suitability for the job that just might work. Appealing to Angry Tom’s ego, but subtly suggesting voters on the left would be better off supporting the NDP, could make it a JT vs. the world scenario.

  7. chris says:

    Help please. I’m a Mulcair supporting New Democrat but I’d vote for Harper before Trudeau. I no of several others who feel the same way from age range 40 to 60. Why is this?

    • Tig says:

      A friend of mine is like that.

      He respects Harper as a middle-class guy who blazed his own trail, but disagrees with him on when government should help people. He admires Mulcair as a tough guy, agrees with him more on when government should play a role, and will vote for his NDP candidate. He despises Trudeau as someone who’s had it all handed to him.

      If it came down to Harper vs. Trudeau, I bet he’d vote for Harper.

      It’s just one of those things. It’s irrelevant, because Mulcair will be a viable option in 2015, but it’s interesting.

      • Michael Bluth says:

        The only leader who doesn’t want to see Mulcair as a viable option in 2015 is JT.

        Mulcair of course wants to be seen as a viable option.

        Harper is more than happy to see a battle over the progressive vote with two viable options.

        Beaulieu likes the prospect of two viable prospects on the nominally federalist vote. More opportunity for their shrinking separatist base to slide up the middle in a number of ridings.

        2015 will likely end up as a true test of JTs leadership ability. All of the other leaders will spend a significant amount of time attacking him. Is he up to the task?

  8. SD says:

    In the NDP leadership convention, the members chose Tom Mulcair over Brian Topp. I think it was partly because the members want the NDP to form the next government rather than just be the conscience of parliament. Tom Mulcair and the NDP supporters will need to make some compromises rather than go with an ideological platform. I do think Mr. Mulcair can do this if he offers ideas that will attract both centrist-Canadians and those on the left-of-centre. Where Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath failed was that she abandoned the left-of-centre voters. Her party lost seats in Toronto because of this strategy.

    Within the House of Commons, Mr. Mulcair has brought a new sense of constructive discipline within the NDP caucus. He, himself, has asked very concise questions to Stephen Harper and his Conservative caucus. The other NDP MPs have asked focused questions on important topics of the day.

    Outside parliament, Mr. Mulcair has a lot of work to do. He has to convince Canadians that Harper’s vision for Canada is destroying it. He has to convince voters that Justin Trudeau is just like the destructive Stephen Harper, but with a smile. Tom Mulcair will need to present a vision of Canada that will attract both centrists and those to the left.

    • Michael Bluth says:

      If Mulcair can pull off appealing to centrists and those on the left, then he wins. That’s a might big if.

      His frustration at being marginalized by the media in favour of Justin is palpable, and understandable. Mulcair is far more accomplished than Justin and a much stronger performer in the House of Commons. That ain’t enough.

      It will also be Mulcair’s first election as leader. As bright and capable as he is, it’s tough to see him outperforming what Layton did in his fourth election as leader. Mulcair gets that experience counts, hence his frustration with Justin’s polling numbers.

      My one, relatively well-placed contact with the NDP, freely admits that the party expects to lose a number of seats in Quebec. He still has that NDP optimism as he feels they can pick up a second seat in Alberta.

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