Political parties don't die so easily - Macleans.ca

Political parties don’t die so easily

The big news: It’s silly to suggest established parties will vanish forever


Paul Chiasson/CP

“It’s a far cry from where they were not long ago.” —The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson, on how Liberals are winning again after a miserable electoral drought

Our political leaders, and their political parties, can’t seem to lose without being declared dead. Liberals endured a terrible run after the 2011 federal election when they could perfected the art of defeat. Prince Edward Island was made to be the party’s last stand. Death was near, many assumed. How could a middle-of-the-road party survive in a country where voters were increasingly polarized between Conservatives and New Democrats?

Well, easy. By winning. Stephen McNeil has invigorated the Liberal brand by sweeping Darrell Dexter’s NDP out of power in Nova Scotia. Justin Trudeau has the party atop national polls. Now, death is not so near. The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson wonders if the NDP’s devastating loss in the Maritimes is a “straw in the wind of what the party dreads”; namely, getting squeezed out by Liberals.

Not so long ago, the NDP was so buoyed by its success at the federal level that victory seemed possible everywhere. They were favourites in B.C. They competed in Newfoundland, and governed Nova Scotia. They were reasonably popular in Ontario. They’d won another term in Manitoba. Momentum found its way into every region.

Then, things turned sour. The party lost to the traditional parties in B.C. and Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and haven’t broken through in Ontario. Time to question the party’s mortality, right? How can a left-wing party survive in a country where voters are returning to traditional parties like Liberals and Conservatives?

Well, easy. By winning. Simpson points out that the NDP are “slumping” in Newfoundland, which is true. The party’s dipped in the polls. But the NDP remains in second place to the Liberals, and the NDP’s Lorraine Michael is the province’s most popular leader. Win an election there, and then win more seats than anyone predicts in the next Ontario election, and social democrats are back in the game, turning heads and gaining coveted momentum.

Or maybe not. But it sure is silly to predict that political parties will languish in obscurity because they lose a few elections.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail Alice Munro, Canada’s most recent Nobel laureate, hasn’t said much publicly.
National Post Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin want to buy BlackBerry.
Toronto Star The newspaper sends a reporter to work in a Bangladesh garment factory.
Ottawa Citizen An autistic boy and his family could be evicted from their Ottawa home.
CBC News The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an anti-chemical weapons group.
CTV News John Greyson and Tarek Loubani have apparently left Egypt.
National Newswatch Former Jack Layton aide Anne McGrath is returning to the NDP.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Politics. Richard Le Lay, a well-connected political operative in Quebec who advised provincial and federal Conservative governments for decades, is heading back to Ottawa to work on behalf of Quebec’s Parti Quebecois government. The committed sovereigntist first worked for his province’s Union Nationale government in the 1960s.
THE GLOBAL Charles Taylor. The former Liberian president will serve a 50-year prison sentence in the United Kingdom. Taylor, convicted of helping rebels commit atrocities in Sierra Leone, was found guilty on 11 counts, including terrorism, rape, murder and the use of child soldiers. He was the first head of state convicted by an international court in decades.
THE QUIRKY Dead man. Donald Miller, Jr., a 61-year-old Ohio man, vanished in the 1980s. He lived in Georgia and Florida, and was eventually declared dead. Eight years ago, he returned to Ohio and attempted to renew his driver’s licence. Earlier this week, a judge ruled that death rulings can only be changed within three years, so Miller’s remains legally dead.

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Political parties don’t die so easily

  1. What a difference a new leader makes — and has made for both NDP and Liberals. Perhaps the cons should consider a new leader and see if their headlines start to change for the positive.

    • It’s funny how the only people who think the CPC need a new leader are the people who’ve been losing to Harper for almost a decade.

      Oh, and before you start celebrating Trudeau’s successes, you might want to wait for him to actually lead the party through a general election. I know that to Liberals Trudeau doesn’t actually need to succeed at anything to be “successful”, but the rest of us kinda would like to see what he’s actually got. You should be aware that it’s entirely possible that he’ll do even worse in the next election than Iggy did.

      • We have seen what Harper has got and that scares or disgusts the majority of us

        • Love that “oh, and …” line from enraged Tories.

          • I thought the only thing you loved was your old sway back horse.

      • For you to see what Trudeau has you’d have to actually clear the garbage out of your ears and put on your glasses.

        • We like to keep garbage in our ears to remind us what a Liberal smells like.

          I keep a dead rat in my “left” ear to remind me what Justine smells like.

          • You smell with your ears? Well that explains a lot…

          • LOL

          • If you can say that 8,841 more times I’ll put you down for a par off the “ladies” tee.

          • what?

          • Keith Buddy!

            It was a rhetorical device with a strong literary precedent.

            Horsey Lizzie had just informed me that with the help of corrective lenses she’ s able to see through her ears

          • oh ooh ya that makes sense then…NOT

          • you smell through your ears?…you my epitomize the knuckle draggers that the Cons need so much

          • You shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried. I can smell you all the way from here.

            You smell a bit manky actually; like an old wet T-Shirt from Emily’s place.

  2. There is a lot of broad strokes here to try to shoehorn everything into a pre-decided conclusion. For instance, if the NDP ever polled above third place in Ontario overall, it would only have been very briefly (although they did overtake Hudak’s losery CPC in several areas).

  3. It was silly to begin with to announce that the most successful political party in the western world had ‘died’ because occasionally they lose an election!

    • 34 seats isn’t exactly dead – plus, they’ve got experience, connections, and a lot of people invested in their success. Then there are the people who know what Harper is up to, and who are alarmed by it – and want him out.

      • I know….it’s like the country feels lost without the Libs in power….even though it stands to reason they are bound to lose occasionally.

        • “it’s like the country feels lost without the Libs in power”
          Thanks for that, I hadn’t had a really good roll of the eyes in a while.

          • Shrug. We’ve had tons of ink on it, columns, posts, articles….when really it’s a simple matter of losing an election….something that happens to every party.

            It’s like no one knows what to do without the Libs in power. I’m not a Lib so I can be more objective….but the wailing and gnashing and rending of garments is obvious anyway. It’s a ‘we’ve lost our way’ or lost our sense of direction view. Surprised me.

          • Great video. Thanks for sharing.

          • I meant to point to the song video lower down.
            His youtube also has a great video of Kissel at work on his Dad’s ranch.

          • I grew up on a ranch in Alberta as well and my brother and nephew still ranch.

          • Sorry, I’m not into bumpkin songs.

          • Of course you aren’t. (Happy with anything.)
            Here’s Kissel on his Dad’s cattle ranch. You know, the industry
            you say doesn’t exist in Alberta.

          • I’ve said just the opposite actually….Alberta is a primary resource economy….oil, wheat, cattle

            Last time I checked wheat, cattle etc was farming….country bumpkin songs suit it.

          • Your exact quote to me from another (Theresa Spence) article:
            “Canada never had cowboys….that’s a Hollywood movie image.
            They dress up in costume a lot in Alberta though.”
            ….aaaand another verbatim Emily gem on the existence of Alberta cowboys:
            “I think it’s time you grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales.”
            Ya gotta love Disqus.

          • Canada had farm hands….so did the US….Calling someone a ‘cowboy’ was glamourized by Hwood movies…..but it’s like being called a ‘pig boy’ or ‘horseboy’…..not a compliment.

            It was a dirty, badly paid job of manual labour. No guns, no shootouts, no white hats [!], no chasing ‘bad guys’……..

            And Canadian ones, if they could get a horse, played polo…because a lot of them were remittance men from England

          • When you raise cattle, a rancher is the owner. The ranch hands are called cowboys. Sometimes a rancher is also a cowboy. Professional cowboys have usually honed their skills by being cowboys on ranches and turn pro because they’re good and can make big money if they’re really good.

            Look up the history of the cowboy hat. It is a centuries old tool
            that is still around in the summer or hot weather because it shades
            the rider’s head and neck efficiently. It does as good a job on
            a city slicker’s head.

          • A farm, a ranch and a plantation are all the same thing…no matter how much you try to gussy it up. LOL

            A ‘cowboy hat’ is a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off….a tool, nothing more. Gouchos wear em, coolies wore em… But no one wears a white one unless they’re crazy. Too much dirt.

            A ‘professional cowboy’….one who does rodeos…. is an entertainer.

          • “coolie”….now that is one horribly derogatory term.
            As for the “white hat”, that is a Calgary thing. It was adopted as a welcome to the city by the chamber of commerce. However, in the summer, cowboys (ranch hands) do wear straw cowboy hats that tend to be cream colored and they do get a dirty inside rim from sweat but like all summery straw hats, they are light in color to reflect the heat rather than absorb it as a dark color would do. No self-respecting cowboy (ranch hand) would wear a dark colored thick hat in summer because it would absorb the heat and cook your head. Those are for looks only as our the white hats and they are worn out for dress up.

          • 1.2 million people prove you wrong. A white one is perfectly acceptable when you’re not on a range or getting dirty. In fact, it’s
            the preferred colour. Weird that you take umbrage about a hat.
            You should look into that.

          • Oh I thought you meant working cowboys, not ornamental ones.

            I’m not the one wearing the hat Zomby….so I don’t worry about it.

        • Emily, don’t put yourself down.
          We don’t feel lost without the Liberals
          You’ve showed up here 8,835 times to remind us how bad it was.

        • If you are getting lost, Emily that can be a sign of early onset dementia. See your doctor.

          • Heavens….another bumpkin. HeeHaw

          • Look up the definition of ‘Ad Hominem.’
            Your derogatory use of the word bumpkin in a poor attempt to level
            is far more bumpkin than someone sending you a kick-aXX tune.
            You’re welcome, btw.

          • I find it amazing Cons feel free to call me all manner of things….all the time.

            But apparently ‘bumpkin’ upsets their delicate sensibilities. LOL

          • Cons? Labelling is just a higher form of name calling, imo, you know…like ‘bumpkin.’ Politically neutral here. A vote for the candidate(s) with the best game plan considering the times and economy and how well it will address what’s needed is what gets my vote.

          • If you have trouble figuring out Cons, Libs and Dips you shouldn’t be voting at all.

            And ‘bumpkin’ is in the dictionary.

          • Who would infer ‘trouble’ with that except for the trolling. If you bandwagon party jump without examining the critical issues and proposed policy to address them, then your vote is essentially for sale to gang colours and could cause the country more harm than good.

          • If you pay attention on a regular basis, you’ll already know who you’re voting for long before election day.

            It’s not rocket science ya know

          • Agree.

          • Goodness….the condition is farther along than we thought. your comment would indicate you have regressed back to the 1970’s and are apparently living vicariously through a very bad television show. Are you wearing hats without removing the price tag by any chance?

          • It’s onomatopoeia for the sound of a donkey braying HI.

          • So now you believe you have a donkey braying next to you….

          • Several actually….a zombie, a jam jar and an HI

          • Poor Emily, always the victim of “some Con” in her own mind….

          • LOL not me that’s dressing up to play cowboy, HI

          • No, you just regularly lapse into an Irish brogue when apparently your family has been in Canada for many generations…..

          • Well I’d lapse into Chinese, but you wouldn’t understand it. LOL

          • Hmmm…so now you are claiming Asian ancestry as well. You really are “lost”. You have made so many things up, you can’t keep track.

          • I’m not claiming ANY ancestry HI….you are.

      • Then there are people who remember what Pierre Trudeau was up to.

        These are the people who will fight like SOB’s to make sure no Dynasty of Marxist idiots like that one gets started up.

        • I gues if you consider a charter of rights and freedoms as well as a constitution Marxist propaganda then sure Trudeau was a marxist.
          I personally believe that our charter and constitution are what sets us apart from all other countries and makes us great.

          • Well Hoops no question at all that the Trudeau Charter sets us apart from all others.
            It sets us apart as the greatest collection of damn fools on the face of the earth that we let that fish faced mofo get away with it.

            I’d advise you to study carefully the United States Bill of Rights.

            The United States Bill of Rights limits the power of the federal government over it’s citizens.

            Trudeau’s Canadian da da da da is exactly the opposite. Trudeau has taken the Federal Government and rammed it up everyone’s behind with a Marxist Stalinist sledge hammer.

          • I do not see any patriot acts in Canada. But what happened to their rights of privacy?
            The reality in the United States is that they pay lip service to the bill of rights with the exceptin of the right to bear arms.

          • Ah Hoops I’m sorry but you’re mistaken.

            a) We have had two pieces of legislation with provisions similar to the US Patriot Act. The Anti Terrorism Act of 2001 and the Combating Terrorism Act of 2012

            b) I believe personally that most Americans, those who have been properly schooled in the history of the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers, pay much more than lip service to the Bill of Rights. The US Government, especially the current one, not so much so by the looks of it.

            The Price of Freedom is vigilance. Personally, I don’t have a good feel for exactly what’s happening to us (Canada and the US) in terms of our obviously reduced individual freedom, but I know instinctively that I don’t like it.

          • I agree with you about the individual freedom, but the question that I have for you is which government brought in those two pieces of legislation?

          • Chretien on the first one having to do with Sept 11, and that one had an expiry clause for 2007.

            Harper did the 2012 one on account of Boston and the Via Trains incident. I believe this one too has a sunset and that it was supported by the Liberals?

            Are these necessary? I sure don’t know. At the time some were arguing that existing legislation covered things.

        • Marxist?

          You would be more persuasive if you avoided the hyperbole.

          • Well now my little poet confusion reigns, does it not? And it’s obviously my fault.

            You believe that when I applied the term “Marxist” to our former fish-face King that I was exaggerating; attempting to paint the little freak up worse than he really was.

            So I’m sorry to disappoint you because my intention, in the interest of persuasion, was to do exactly the opposite.

            Joseph Stalin, that great figure from history, is known to have butchered up both Marxist’s and Bolsheviks by the bushel in an effort to achieve his diabolical communist ends. To subjugate everyone in sight, by force when necessary.

            I believe that Trudeau admired Stalin as a hero worth imitating and felt himself to be a victim of history, unable to achieve a dream.

            So with great thanks and gratitude to you, I’ve changed it: no hyperbole, no minimization, just tell it like it is. Why not?

            And in a broader sense I’ll always vote strongly against any effort by the Liberals to start a Trudeau Dynasty.

  4. Unfortunately that is how politics work in Canada. the Conservatives have their die had group of support and the Liberals and NDP fight for the rest. If the Liberals are to win an election it will be at the expense of the NDP and vice versa.

  5. Traditionally the NDP were always a rump party in NL. I wouldn’t be writing them off there yet – it’s amazing they have managed to maintain the strength they have. With the mess Dunderdale is making of things, it won’t take much to make a strong showing next election.

  6. Anybody old enough to remember Kim Campbell and the mess Mulldoon left can attest to the fickleness of the Canadian voter.