Today’s fodder for conversation


Pollster Jean-Marc Léger: “The race to succeed Jack Layton is much too long.”

Jack Layton’s last letter to Canadians: “I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year…”

Yes, I truncated the sentence. The original left plenty of room for interpretation. And the party was, and should have been, free to set its own schedule. But who believes the NDP interpreted correctly, and who likes the schedule now?

While we’re on it: How does the Liberals’ decision to wait three times as long as the NDP look?


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Today’s fodder for conversation

  1. I think the NDP’s actually doing fine.

    Yes, they’re sinking a bit.  But they’re still (albeit barely) in first in Quebec, and they cast a wide net for leadership candidates.  To the extent that Mulcair’s had a tougher time of it, it’ll improve him as leader (if it’s him).

    And it’s Quebec that decides whether the Dippers stay as one of the top two parties in 2015.

    As for the Liberals’ decision to wait — doesn’t Bob have this one locked now?  Does the exact date when they ratify it really matter that much, in the grand scheme of things?

    • No My sense is that the rank and file membership will not stand for another coronation; probably one of the reasons he’s being coy? It could still happen of course if Rae continues to gain ground on the ndp after they have a new leader.But i’m pessimistic that will continue at the same rate as it is now, the ndp have a pretty impressive line up of good young talent, it should begin to show at some point.

      • Re the Grits, I just don’t see anyone else of the same calibre as Rae.

        Maybe the McGuintys could do a brother act — Dalton at Queen’s Park, David at Parliament Hill.  Or Marc Garneau could add something new to the mix.  (But Garneau’s never struck me as particularly impressive as a politician.  As an individual, sure.  But not as a pol.)

        Re the NDP, there could/should be a future Jean Charest among them, same as how Charest came into public life at 26 in the Mulroney wave…

  2. Relative to the final question, it looks like a good way for the LPC, again, to avoid an actual leadership contest and to deliver the helm by default to the incumbent.

    As for the first question, the length of the NDP race is less the point than its tedium. Surely, it reveals some problems in a party an din its hopes for big-tent, government-in-waiting status, when all those aspire to lead it seem to agree on most everything?

    • One lesson that the libs seem fairly certain to have learned [imo] is not to have another coronation regardless of what Rae’s real intentions are – the membership will not stand for it again. Personally i don’t think that is Rae’s only reason for being coy outside of doing a good job; he’s personally getting the party disproportionate attenion for a third party and it’s likely driving the tory strategist to distraction not knowing if Bob is the real target. Why mess with a strategy that’s working?[ pretty sure that opinion has a good pedigree – it came from one of Hebert’s recent columns]. 

      As for the ndp, the most plausible reason i’ve heard so far for their violent agreement is fear of giving the tories too many cheap shots. So in the main we can all heartily thank Harper and his war chest for putting a chill on useful vigorous debate in this country can’t we! 

  3. I have two NDP type friends and they are enjoying the long process. Both like idea of having time to decide, meet candidates, see them debate one another … why hurry is their view and if Libs and Cons are bored by process, who cares about opponents? 

    And as far as Libs decision goes, where you stand depends where you sit, I reckon. If you think it is clever to have another leader not chosen by supporters than Libs decision to have a dipper lead their party is good one. 

    On other hand, those Libs who want to renew their party might not be happy watching clapped out pensioner – who’s widely vilified in Canada’s largest province – engineer another coronation to see out his retirement years in genteel comfort as leader of third party. 

    • As a liberal it might concern me for a second or two if i thought there was a chance you actually knew what you were taliking about, as it is i’m relieved you didn’t think Rae was the perfect choice.

  4. The long Liberal wait will probably be long enough that it will be forgotten about by the time it happens. I’d say that in Ontario, the name “Bob Rae” does not bring up the shudders that it once did (and definitely not in the way that “Mike Harris” does, which will fade too), especially given that history has shown that the rage was likely blown far out of proportion. The only people that would deeply care about it have likely been lost to a party with a blue tie as it is.

    The only real problem with the NDP race, it seems, is that they all, for the most part, agree with each other in principle and it really is coming down to personalities and representational issues (like the attempt to criticize Dewar for the Angus deputy position). I don’t see the time being a problem outside of media getting bored with it and moving on to other things, reducing their exposure. It already feels like this has happened as the *feel* is more Liberal coverage now. 

    • “…. the name “Bob Rae” does not bring up the shudders that it once did (and definitely not in the way that “Mike Harris” does, which will fade too), especially given that history has shown that the rage was likely blown far out of proportion.” 

      Globe/Mail ~ Apr 25 2011 ~ Is Rae’s Legacy Keeping Jack Back? 

      With six days left before election day, one of the big questions of this campaign is whether the federal NDP surge in Quebec will jump the Ottawa River. So far, it hasn’t happened. All these years later, some question whether Bob Rae’s tumultuous five years as an NDP premier could be what’s holding Jack back.

      Now in his 11th campaign, Mr. Rae is largely a low-profile Ontario road warrior, door-knocking with Liberal candidates in well-known electoral hot spots. As one might expect, he strongly dismisses any suggestion that he’s a drag on the competition.

      But others say Mr. Rae’s five years in office might be why Ontarians are reluctant to get solidly behind the federal NDP Leader. “I’m not sure what else could explain why the NDP numbers aren’t up in Ontario,” said pollster Nik Nanos. “I think it’s completely fair to say that part of the NDP brand in Ontario relates to the experience of the NDP provincial government.”

      • I have a rock. There are no bears currently attacking me. Therefore, this rock is exceptionally effective at keeping bears away. 

        Your quoted article provides little outside of speculation and conjecture leveled at a very easy target who is now in another party. Considering that the biggest pickup in Ontario was for the Conservatives, I don’t think the NDP’s failure to wash over Ontario as they did in Quebec can be ascribed to Bob-Rae-Derangement-Syndrome. Outside of a hand full of single-issue gun registry opposers, there is not too much interplay between the two parties. Furthermore, the North, where there is arguably more of such back-and-forth, does not have the necessary seats to interrupt the trend. I also highly doubt that it was a function of “OMG the Liberals have Rae, can’t vote for them either!” at play.

        • Also Harris left behind a legacy at least as  polarized as Raes. I don’t hear pundits pontificating on how Harper’s clique of Harris boys held him back in ON for a couple of years finally letting him through in a big way last may.  
          Those who chose to go on hating Rae like he was frozen intime will need to unearth some other lefty boogie man soon. It’ll probably be Dalton or even Jack once they feel a decent amount of time has past.

        • “I have a rock. There are no bears currently attacking me. Therefore, this rock is exceptionally effective at keeping bears away. ”

          To govern is to choose, to make decisions. Every leader has legacy and plenty of people will be pissed off about one thing or another.

           However, is there another Canadian pol that a similar article would be written about? Globe likes Rae, not wild eyed article from TorStar about evil Harris that kcm2 would enjoy. I don’t know provincial politics outside Ontario very well but I can’t think of a single pol who has legacy similar to Rae’s. 

          Liberals have to grow support and Ontario is largest prov but Cons hate Rae because he’s a socialist, dippers hate Rae because he’s Judas and all right wing Liberals will have conflicted feelings. Left wing Liberals are probably Rae’s only base of support now. 

          • Barely glance at the star beyond checking in on  Hebert to cross reference Wells or Coyne and Delacourt for intelligent liberal stuff and my old bud Salutin for the state of western civilization, who used to hang his hat up at the Globe before they started sliding.
             I’ve lived out west all of my adult life except for a few months in Ontario and i have yet to meet a displaced Ontarian with a good word to say for Harris; most of what they do say is unprintable.  

    • After Rae, 45% of Ontarians voted for Harris in two straight elections.

      Harper got 44% of Ontario votes in 2011 — if they’re conceded to Team Blue… well, I’ll be very happy with that…

      • I’ll concede that point. 

        However, the point I’m making is that I don’t believe that many of the few people left who care strongly about Rae’s policy decisions, made over 20 years ago, were going to be voting for the (Federal) NDP in the first place. These are largely individuals who no longer believe in government programs and expenditure as the way to go. The Federal NDP still cares deeply about social programs and spending, so why would people who are now comfortable with the Conservative platform be considering at all the NDP? Especially when you consider that the parties of the (rough) left and right have distanced themselves ideologically considerably since then.

        I’m still waiting for a MoR party to come back, but it doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.

        • It’ll be interesting to see whether the Liberals try to re-assume that role — fiscal conservatives who view themselves as socially progressive.  There IS room.

          How they navigate the pipeline decisions will speak much to that point.

          Not sure re Rae — the NDP’s Ontario troubles even in the last election says that SOMETHING was keeping them down.  But they did finally take second place by e-day.

          How the opposition parties shake out over the 2012-2015 period will be fascinating.

          • Completely agreed. I’ve been lamenting the loss of a party that can straddle the two (Blue Liberals or Red Tories). I do think that the pipeline play, which may become more solid as permanent leaders are chosen, will be particularly instructive.

            I’m starting to get the feeling that in many Ontario cities that perhaps as individuals and families with higher incomes choose to live in the downtowns again that a slow-down (of even reversal) of the NDP saturation of those areas may occur. I can’t say that with certainty though as I’ve not exactly crunched numbers. It just doesn’t feel that urban voters are decided in terms of which direction they’d like to head.

          • There might be less room on the centre-right than one thinks, however, as the CPC has conceded on the two biggest hot-button social issues — abortion and gay marriage.

            But re the downtown, there was one signal.  Trinity-Spadina, provincially, wasn’t seriously contested by the Liberals, because they thought it was an easy NDP hold.  They basically cut their candidate off from party support. 

            And then she nearly won.  Would’ve given them a majority had they put any resources there.

            What happened?  Well, haven’t seen the poll-by-poll breakdown, but my guess is those big tall condominium towers that went up on Spadina, near SkyDome, turned out to hold a lot of Liberal voters.  (We joke about them as Tory Towers, but a lot of their residents vote Liberal, I’m sure.)

  5. Jack Layton’s other great piece of advice — no, his order — was to have Nicole Turmel be Interim Leader. How has that one worked out?

    • In that it prevented a coronation, same as how the CA and CPC picked genuine interim leaders, it did exactly what it was supposed to do.

      Jack gamed it out just fine.

      • I think Layton did a fine job as well. Put weak leader into position while allowing for jockeying between proper leadership candidates – debates are good for party because it gets their base thinking about issues and it brings msm exposure for the party.

        People talk like Fed election is going to be held any time now and NDP are stuck with Turmel. People won’t even remember who Turmel is a few months after NDP choose new leader and then they have a few years to fine tune their message.

  6. Hey PW or Macleans tech guy.

    When you close comments on blogs, you can no longer even view older comments.  Is this by design, or a glitch? Some interesting discussions are lost.

  7. Personally, Nathan Cullen (and not because of his main proposal) is the most personable and engaging of the candidates.  A long race might suit him so that he can build his profile and get himself more well known.

    If the race is boring it is not necessarily only a function of the length.  Mulcair is boring because he is keeping his temper on a leash.  Topp is boring because he just is.  Peggy is boring because she is keeping her left-wing tendencies in check.

    I thougt Peggy might have a shot if the members got tired of Topp and Mulcair throwing crap at each other.  So far they have not really been doing that so that might diminish the need for a third option like Peggy.

    The decision to take some time before holding the Liberal Leadership race was taken, I believe, before the passing of Jack Layton.  Most LIberals were more interested in rebuilding the party first (and I think the recent Convention showed that) rather than engage in Leadership politics right away.

    Bob Rae was named Interim Leader because he fit the criteria at the time.  The fact that he is doing a bang-up job is a bonus and, I think, gives the Liberals a happy dilema.  Either stick with the guy named Parlementarian of the year and the best orator and QP performer or somebody who can best him in a true Leadership contest.

  8. “While we’re on it: How does the Liberals’ decision to wait three times as long as the NDP look?”

    I suppose there’s about a 50/50 chance i’ve read that line wrong but it looks like it will be quite some time yet before the better pundits like Wells , Coyne, Potter and company find any kind words again for the party?On the whole that is likely a good thing for now anyway. And since your last report had them still  flying under a controlled flight path right into the ground i think it’s a fair guess?

    I’d i’d say it was an ok decision. At the very least it enabled the libs to hold a convention that wasn’t all about choosing the next PM, so that ‘s a good thing.no? 
    In some ways the worst thing that could happen is for the ndp to have some kind of meltdown this far out from an election – then i would worry.

  9. I think it’s ridiculous the Liberals will wait so long for a new leader.  The NDP also seems to be taking a very long time.  Really, what is the point?  Do they expect new super-candidates to appear out of nowhere?

  10. This depends on how you see a modern political
    leader’s job. The “no rush” timetable suggests a party leader is
    primarily a presidential candidate, and as long as you’ve got one in
    place in time to campaign, you’re good. The media generally accepts that
    premise, as even the criticisms of the NDP’s leadership void come from
    the perspective that Nycole Turmel is a lousy public face of the party.
    It’s true that the party’s best talent isn’t on the front bench, but
    neither is their best talent manning the machinery. At this stage of the
    electoral cycle that is probably a greater concern.

    you believe a leader’s job is bigger than that, perhaps Stephen
    Harper’s example is instructive. He won the Canadian Alliance
    leadership, somewhat surprisingly, on the first ballot. Had it not
    happened, a runoff would have been held at a national convention two
    weeks later. During those two weeks he was able to shove Ezra Levant out
    of the way so he could get into Parliament, held a meeting with Joe
    Clark that basically disposed of him, welcomed most remaining dissident
    MP’s back into caucus, approved a plan to use riding association
    surpluses to wipe out the party’s debt (money has never been a problem
    since), and Stock Day and his supporters got an early start on licking
    their wounds. This was important stuff that made life a lot easier as
    the party prepared for an election that was more than two years away.
    Maybe I’m making too much of this. The new NDP leader will have plenty
    of time for this stuff before Oct 2015, but given the amount of debate
    that has already happened I don’t see what will be served by two more
    months of tire kicking.

  11. As for the Liberals, if I correctly read the mood of what remains of the
    party rank and file, they don’t want a leader running the machine.
    They’re sick of leaders running the machine. And who can blame them?
    Look at what a mess the last 3 made of it (arguably 4, if you want to
    say Chretien’s hubris and neglect left Martin a wide opening to take the
    party over. And of course Turner didn’t make out so well. And Trudeau
    pretty much ran the party out of the PMO and let the ground game rot. So
    when you think about it, this thing might not have been in capable
    hands since CD Howe.) There’s nothing wrong with grassroots party
    management, except if the leader doesn’t like it. If and when that
    happens a year and a half of work will be wasted. More than that, it
    will feel wasted, which will make it hard to get more of it done. I have
    no idea who the Liberal leader will be and how much of the ongoing
    renewal work he will accept or scrap, but I bet whatever he does scrap
    will lead to bad feelings that anonLibs will air in the media. Choosing a
    leader now wouldn’t be putting the cart before the horse, it would be
    putting a driver in the cart before the horse gets moving.

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