A wind farm in every kale patch! The NDP doubles down

The NDP goes back to basics as a party: caring, and being bad at math

(Photo illustration by Lauren Cattermole and Richard Redditt)

(Photo illustration by Lauren Cattermole and Richard Redditt)

Now look what you’ve done, Canada: You’ve gone and hurt the NDP’s feelings.

The New Democratic Party went for it in the 2015 election. They promised social justice. They promised a balanced budget. They promised hot and cold running ponies, if only Canadians would finally give them a shot at power.

After decades on the fringes, they put themselves out there for real—and got rejected. Now the party’s true believers are trying to bury all evidence of their shame. They’re dumping the leader. They’re rethinking their policies. They’re getting back to basics as a party that’s good at caring and bad at math.

Related: Inside the NDP’s hard-left turn into an existential crisis

We can all relate to regret of this magnitude. I for one have dedicated most of my adult life to tracking down and destroying photographs from my 1979 velour sweater phase. (Stop laughing: Burgundy was in at the time.) But at the party’s convention last weekend, delegates took things a little far.

Consider, for instance, the widespread affection for the so-called Leap Manifesto, which imagines a Canada that’s free of fossil fuels. What a wonderful concept! A clean-energy utopia in which everyone gets a hemp-powered robot butler whose only emission is love! One small catch: All of Alberta’s oil apparently has to remain in the ground, which is no problem because the province can totally fall back on its other major industry: recessions.

Oh, did I mention that the convention took place in Edmonton? The whole thing was basically a weekend-long GIF for “awkward.” The Leap Manifesto refers to pipelines as “the infrastructure of the past”—which is weird because I was almost 100 per cent sure we live in the present, where stuff like “oil” needs to get to places like “cities and towns” so people like me “don’t have to bicycle.”

Can you spot the other big problem with the Leap Manifesto? It’s right there in the title. Manifestos are generally the domain of bearded revolutionaries, serial killers and our more ambitious hermits. By and large, manifesto authors are people not trusted to run a bar tab, let alone a country.

Related: Avi Lewis defends the Leap Manifesto

The authors sure got to Tom Mulcair, though. Last fall, Mulcair campaigned on a no-deficit pledge. This past weekend in Edmonton, he had not a critical word for the manifesto, even though it would drive our economy so far into the past that the suggested retail price of Naomi Klein’s next book would be two chickens and a sheaf of hay.

Such are the realities of political skin-saving. Even before the convention, there were signs that Mulcair’s leadership was in peril. Despite months of effort, no one had figured out how to make him stop Smiling Like That. But his keynote speech didn’t help his cause.

It was filled with the usual NDP boilerplate—A wind farm in every kale patch!—but at no point did Mulcair bother to muster an argument for keeping his job. He just kept talking about things that everyone could agree on. Think of it this way: You smash up the family car. The family gets a new car. You want to drive the new family car. So your pitch is—puppies are adorable?

Mulcair eventually tried to tug at a few heartstrings but the ensuing silence made it pretty uncomfortable. “Even when we suffer a setback, we stand strong and united.” Right, guys? GUYS??

Tom was subsequently turfed with nary a thought for the rest of us, who endured an NDP leadership race only four years ago. Do you remember it? The candidates were so nice to one another. It was basically nine months of people nodding and declaring, “Couldn’t have said it better myself!” It was excruciating.

Clearly, there are no small number of New Democrats who prefer that the party stay true to its beliefs and reside on the fringes, well-meaning but inessential—like Channing Tatum and grandparents. Officially, delegates at the convention voted only to “recognize and support” the Leap Manifesto as a “statement of principles.” But even this propels the New Democrats away from the mainstream.

Today, the party has no clear leader in waiting. It has no strategy to take on the Liberals. And it’s about as likely to win another federal seat in Alberta as Stephen Lewis is to use a one-syllable word.

A short six months ago, the NDP tried to be everything to everyone, and they got trounced. They are now well on their way to being one thing to hardly anyone.


A wind farm in every kale patch! The NDP doubles down

  1. Rub a dub dub drunken NDPers in a tub bring back the CCF.

  2. Wind and Solar are not reducing C02. Ontario’s own Engineering Society is telling us this. See the report, “Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma – Achieving Low Emissions at Reasonable Electricity Rates.” Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), April 2015.

    Page 15 of 23. “Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants ?”

    – Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.

    – Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.

    – Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.

    – Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.

    – When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear genera,on to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.

    – Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.

    – Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO 2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).

    – In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

  3. I fully expect the mainstream media to continue its efforts to write-off the NDP, you guys did it even when the Party was channelling Tony Blair, but I hate to disappoint you, there is no chance that the NDP will adopt the fringe elements of the so-called Leap Manifesto (no new pipelines, ever, and ending all trade agreements). The motion to DISCUSS the manifesto was taken during a very unusual convention, under unusual circumstances.

    It is more likely that the Party will put serious consideration into the more mainstream, left-wing elements (we are a left-wing party, after all) such as guaranteed annual incomes, investing in public rail and green industry, and strengthening the social safety net. None of those things will be considered fringe by mainstream progressive voters.

  4. Now that’s the way to start the day, with a good chuckle…

  5. Caring and being bad at math. Yep, that pretty much sums up the NDP and the left leaning Liberals such as those in Ontario.

  6. (Shrug) May-as-well I suppose. The problem is with the NDP, as with the CPC, is that the lunatics are never too far from the surface. Unlike the Conservatives with Herr Harper at the helm, the NDP operates like a charter school for overly sensitive children, everybody’s opinion is valid and sought after, empty heads with big mouths get their moment in the spotlight too. Marxists like Naomi Klein and the like aren’t interested in what the working class (shudder!) might want anyway, they can all huddle under willow trees and eat bark!

  7. Sorry, Mr. Feschuk, But the so-called LEAP Manifesto is not reflective of NDP policy, and probably never will be. It will be discussed, of course, as would any serious proposal brought forward by the son of a distinguished party elder, but if the response in the media and on social media is any indication, it will be rejected with a resounding “No way!” not only for policy reasons, but for safety and economic reasons. LEAP would mean rampant unemployment, both in Western and Eastern Canada; LEAP would mean continued transportation of oil by train. The task of the 21st Century NDP is to represent the views of the working people of Canada, not the views of a few eastern elitists and celebrities, none of whom would experience the impact of their policies.

  8. Never read such a childish article. The Manifesto says exactly what Trudeau is doing is doing except with a tighter timeline.

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