Linda McQuaig has not yet surrendered her brain to her party -

Linda McQuaig has not yet surrendered her brain to her party

‘I certainly didn’t get into politics to kind of modify my voice’


Over the weekend, it was noted again that Linda McQuaig, the NDP’s candidate in Toronto Centre, and Thomas Mulcair, the NDP leader, have expressed different opinions on the appropriate level of taxation for the most wealthy among us.

In a new interview, Ms. McQuaig is asked directly about her independence.

NK : You mention that you’ve been outspoken and taken a strong stance on issues you care about. Certain research groups like Samara have found, through interviewing MPs, that MPs are surprised by how much party discipline is present in Parliament.

What are you thoughts on that? If you’re elected, do you see your outspoken and combative approach changing within the context of how disciplined our Parliament can be?

LM : I mean I certainly didn’t get into politics to kind of modify my voice. Or cease to be outspoken on issues. You know, that would be counterproductive. At the same time, I would say that I understand that if you enter politics it’s a different process than being a writer. You belong to a party and you make decisions collectively within that party on what the stance is going to be. And I accept that as part of the democratic process. I understand that that it is…the way it should be.  So, among other things, one of the things I look forward to is to be a strong and effective voice within that NDP caucus. Advocating those progressive positions that I’ve long done publicly.

This is both a fairly reasonable approach to party politics and a tension that is easily exploited by one’s political opponents. One man’s better kind of leadership is another man’s losing control of one’s caucus.

In the case of Ms. McQuaig, the Liberals might be keen to fuss over the difference of opinion, but then their leader has promised open nominations in all ridings and lamented that “party discipline has become absurdly over-used in Parliament” and “Conservatives and NDP are led by people who believe in top-down, autocratic rule.”

As for the policy question of taxation, Alex and Jordan Himelfarb write that the conversation around taxes is deluded.

The current conversation is a consequence of the neo-liberal economic policy that began to dominate American and British politics in the early 1980s, and emerged more slowly and subtly in Canada at around the same time. In this view, economic growth and individual freedom are best served by reducing government and its influence and letting the market do its work. Politically, tax cuts were treated as a free good — with little discussion of what public services would be lost and at what cost. We still get promises of tax cuts as though they will magically pay for themselves or will simply require greater efficiencies and less waste. Yet the numbers on waste never add up and the cuts inevitably lead to eroding public services, rising inequality, environmental deterioration and lost opportunity. There is no gravy train and no free lunch.

Possibly that conversation doesn’t change until voters can be convinced either that something is worth paying for or that something truly valuable has been lost as the government cut back and that only increasing taxes will bring restore it, the former particularly requiring a sufficient amount of trust that the government can make good on delivering that something.

See previously: Have Conservatives won the tax debate? and Thomas Mulcair versus taxes


Linda McQuaig has not yet surrendered her brain to her party

  1. Doesn’t it kind of feel like Mulcair has already neutered her (“modified her voice”) by disagreeing with her view on taxing the rich? Why should voters select her, knowing that despite her high profile, her leader already won’t put her plans to action?

    • Harper has created a Ministry of Truth, comprised of 4000 communications staffers (paid for by taxpayers,) that scripts everything every minister and MP says to the media. Glad the NDP is taking a different approach to party politics…

    • Watcha do is encourage robust discussion within caucus in
      an effort to influence the future direction of policy. It ain’t like
      it doesn’t already happen.
      Of course the gotcha guys are always circling outside the reef.

    • They should select her because they want elected representatives who have passion and substantive opinions and are able to work with other people who don’t necessarily agree on everything but are similarly engaged in working toward a common good. Their leader should appreciate the differences, respect their opinions, and include the best of everyone’s ideas.

      This is in stark contrast to certain other contemporary politicians who are so afraid of constructive criticism and independent thought that they make enemies out of anyone who dares disagree to the point that the only people they have around them are the ones who can’t see that the emperor is clearly naked.

    • Well, the other option is to vote for the Liberal candidate who’s an experienced journalist and would become Finance Minister under Trust Fund Trudeau. If I were voting in that riding, I’d rather have a voice in the party caucus than vote for an elitist who wrote an entertaining book.

    • McQuaig says if elected she will continue to advocate for her views, so it seems she thinks there is a chance that she could get Mulcair to change his mind. Mulcair says that is not going to happen and I expect he is right. McQuaig would simply be wasting her time to continue pushing for change that isn’t going to happen in the NDP.

    • Because your basing your argument on the false assumption that Mulcair will run his government like Harper does – a one man show. The difference is that he will have a rich pool of talent, intelligence, dedication and ethically uncompromised ministers to help him lead this country.

      Sad to see how skewered and cynical ideas about politics have become in this country after decades of right-wing governments. Time to change that.

  2. john stuart mill – Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion:

    the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

    • Yes, if you want free speech from politicians the only choice is the Conservative party…

      • I’m sure you’re aware that JSM was a great Liberal thinker; maybe the greatest?

        • Oh .. surely not as great as P.J. O’Rourke !

          • PJ’s not in the bull pen today apparently; resting him most likely.

        • Somehow I doubt JSM was a member of the Canadian Liberal party…

          My point is that it’s absurd to quote someone on absolute free speech in relation to a politician who is a member of a political party — especially from someone who supports the Conservative party, which has the worst record.

          When a person is a member of a party, or a prominent member of any organization, what they say reflects not only on the person, but the organization as well.

          If someone wants to retain their right to free speech, they have to go it alone, or find some organization which is like-minded.

  3. Those advocating tax increases as some kind of a bold new political strategy might want to take a look at what is about to happen to Darrell Dexter in Nova Scotia. He is about to be turfed from office, and that 2% HST increase right at the beginning of his mandate is a key reason. Similarly, the NDP is taking on water badly in Manitoba, and it all started with the PST increase put through in the last budget. Middle class Canadians simply don’t have any appetite for tax increases, and attempts to “make the rich pay” are doomed to failure. (This just in – wealthy people and companies are highly mobile.) There is a reason why Mulcair is distancing himself from McQuaig already, as he is smart enough to know her policies are electoral poison.

    • It’s not wealthy people and companies that are highly mobile – it’s their capital. That money is also amazingly chameleon-like in the ability to change colour in the presence of a taxman.

      I suspect Mulcair knows that taxing the wealthy generates so little revenue, relative to other options, that such a policy causes more aggravation than it’s worth politically.

    • Exactly. In Manitoba, our government has been spending so recklessly for a decade that they had no choice but to raise taxes. So now we have a massive structural deficit, and they’re raising taxes just so they can continue buying votes. Still have hallway medicine. Roads and bridges are still crumbling. But we’ve got a really nice football stadium and a shiny new Human Rights museum. Neither of which will ever pay for themselves.

      The problem is the political parties that raise these taxes are the ones who want to spend it on every pet project and special interest group. I suspect that Manitoban’s wouldn’t mind the PST hike if every dime were to go to road repairs, and if we’d see tangible results in a few years time. That’s the kind of thing taxpayers don’t mind paying taxes for. Likewise healthcare. But in Manitoba the NDP spent every single dime of increase healthcare funding on increasing the bureaucracy instead of any front line services. So now we have a huge office building downtown full of bureaucrats reminding us constantly of how bad our healthcare system works.

  4. Ten days before the last federal election I knew I was
    toast. Voted in as a Conservative and
    vowing to promote digital democracy, I’d pissed off Stephen Harper with my
    independence and my lip. I blogged. I posted video interviews with people from
    other parties. I let my constituents
    vote online, then followed their wishes. When reporters asked me questions, I answered.
    In other words, as an MP, I sucked. I was doomed. And I got dooced.

  5. “in the reform party, you will not always get your way but you will always have your say” – Preston Manning.

    (Good grief, I have become Rick Omen)

  6. McQuaig is an excellent NDP candidate who ran in a truly open nomination meeting in a riding she has lived in for years. There was no golden parachute for her nor any interference by the leader. Open and transparent rather than the fake kind.