The next NDP leader has a lot to lose

WELLS: Most of the party’s support came at the Liberals’ expense. That’s not a path to power.


It’s getting down to the home stretch of the interminable New Democratic Party leadership campaign. The party will announce its next leader on March 23. Three televised debates remain: Winnipeg on Feb. 26, Montreal on March 4, Vancouver on March 11.

Montreal will get most of the attention because it sits in the middle of the NDP’s most interesting questions. More than half of the NDP caucus is from Quebec. Who can hold those 58 seats? Can anyone do that, while increasing the party’s support outside Quebec? Can anyone do so well outside Quebec that the party can afford to lose, say, half of its 2011 Quebec bumper crop?

The first question is easy. Thomas Mulcair has the strongest claim to being able to hold support in Quebec. The fact that Brian Topp was born in the province and speaks superb French seems to count for little. Quebec political commentators usually fly in tight formation, and they’ve already signalled that if Mulcair doesn’t win, they will view it, not as his personal failure, but as a rejection of “the Quebec candidate” and therefore as proof the NDP doesn’t value what it won there last year.

But Quebec, with almost a quarter of Canada’s population, has barely one-tenth of the NDP’s total membership. Being king of Quebec doesn’t help Mulcair much in the bigger race. Fortunately for him, nobody has yet broken into a clear lead outside Quebec. Topp, Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar and Mulcair seem to be grouped together in a first tier. Indeed, at least one candidate once thought negligible, Nathan Cullen, has pushed his way into consideration with his good humour and willingness to scrap. So the race is still wide open.

For my money, the party would be mad to bypass Topp, the best strategist Jack Layton had. Topp knows the country better than Mulcair. He knows the party better than anyone. He knows Stephen Harper, having plotted against him through four elections and a coalition crisis, as well as Harper can be known. And if he is low on charm, so what? He can learn charm, and against Harper he wouldn’t need to learn much.

But the NDP doesn’t often take my advice, nor I the NDP’s, and in any case the party’s biggest challenge isn’t to find a leader. It’s to win an election. That job is not getting any easier.

The Harper government has introduced a bill to add 30 new seats to the House of Commons before the next election. Almost all will be in areas that voted Conservative in 2011. Ontario will get 20 new seats in fast-growing suburbs, where the Conservatives have made rapid gains. Six will be in Alberta, six in British Columbia, three in Quebec. The Conservative vote has been remarkably stable since Harper became the party’s leader. If it held in 2015 the Conservatives could expect to win about 20 more seats, just for showing up.

Of course the NDP’s job will be to ensure the government’s votes don’t hold. Good luck with that. There really is such a thing as an NDP-Conservative vote switcher, but they’re not common, and most of the NDP’s increased support in recent years has come at the Liberals’ expense. That’s not a path to power unless the Liberals disappear and the NDP inherits all of their vote, two things that aren’t likely to happen anytime soon.

Winning Conservative votes will be tough, because the Conservative discourse is already changing to reflect the post-2011 competitive environment.

The Harper government is, today more than ever, the unabashed champion of Canada’s natural resource sector. Not just oil, but mining, farming, food crops for export, forestry. If Canada’s economy depended on it in 1960, Stephen Harper is all for it today.

This matters because the economy depends on resource exports today too. Again. Still. Whatever. And Harper’s China trip was all about ensuring that resource exports count for an even greater share of the economy in 2015. It’s terribly unsexy, but it pays the Conservatives dividends. To caricature, the NDP is the party of wage earners in manufacturing, a sector in long-term decline. The Liberals are the party of the creative economy, which, as Ontario’s cash-strapped premier Dalton McGuinty is discovering, doesn’t create jobs. The Conservatives are the party of wood-hewing and water-drawing. That’s where jobs and the population are growing, which means it’s where votes are going.

In a 2002 speech to the Civitas think tank that was crucial to understanding his political philosophy, Harper argued that social conservatism—faith, family and patriotism—was the best ground on which to draw distinctions with the left. “The real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values,” he said, “so conservatives must do the same.”

But that was then. These days social conservatism is often more trouble than it’s worth, as Vic Toews could tell Harper. And the Conservatives’ main foe isn’t a Paul Martin or John Manley who could chase Conservatives onto their own tax-cutting turf, it’s the next NDP leader, who never will.

In that new environment, a certain kind of economic conservatism starts to be more appealing to the Harper party. Not fiscal restraint, necessarily, but what might be called “resource imperialism.” It’s Harper’s emerging strategy for boxing the NDP in. Getting out of that box will be the next leader’s full-time job.


The next NDP leader has a lot to lose

  1. The Conservatives are the party of wood-hewing and water-drawing.

    Numbers from StatsCan. The natural resources sector employs less than a million people while the manufacturing sector employs nearly 2 million. Maybe my math is faulty, but to me it looks like catering to a sector that employs half as many voters as another sector you’re ignoring is a losing strategy.

    • How much of that manufacturing and engineering and investment banking is now dependent on the natural resources industry/

      Don’t confuse direct employment with indirect employment?

    • Welcome to FPTP.

    • Now go back to StatsCan and tell us what proportion of the GDP is produced by the natural resources sector vs manufacturing.

      • Now go beyond Statscan and tell us how many Canadians ever see any  of that GDP.  Billionaires, many of them American or Chinese, getting windfall oil rents doesn’t help Canada overall a whole blip of a lot.  And if it’s being managed by Conservatives, they always insist on keeping the royalties low–no sense in Canada (or Alberta) getting any of the money for its own resources.
        There are a few countries in the world with resource profits high enough and populations low enough that everyone makes a good living off the money.  But that’s because the Sultan gives everyone a guaranteed income–the oil economy doesn’t actually employ those people.

      •  It doesn’t matter. GDP doesn’t vote. At least not yet. Michael Sona may be working on that.

    • You can take issue with Wells’ comment but the fact is the Conservatives have the majority of the West supporting them. As well they have the suburbs of Toronto and South Western Ontario supporting them. The only place they are soft is the Maritimes and Quebec. The latter will split the votes between the NDP, Libs and Conservatives.


      • Stephen Harper promised to bring prosperity to Canadians and so far has delivered the opposite.  He has single mindedly set about to tie our economy to export of crude oil, which will certainly bring prosperity to Alberta and Saskatchewan, although that won’t actually begin to bear fruit for three or four years and the approval process will offend many people.  At the same time he plans to bring conservative fiscal medicine to the rest of the country, which will have particular impact in Ontario.  Come next election time, everyone outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan will be so sick of this conservative medicine, and no prosperity, that they will look for somewhere to vote, besides conservatives and that includes many people who voted conservative last election.  Folks will be helped along this road from CPC to ABC by a stream of revelations about illegal or unethical behaviour such as the “robocalling” tip of the iceberg and by Vic Toews with his “with us or with child pornographers’ nonsense.  It is pretty clear that conservative support outside Alberta and Saskatchewan is melting away and will continue to do so. 

        • Well you can believe the nonsense you espoused but the reality is most Canadians do not care about robocalls like they were not fooled with the phony contempt charge.

          There is nothing the government can do to stop companies from locating offshore in order to reduce their costs. Why do they move? Its because the cost of doing business in Canada is too expensive for a number of reasons.

          You have to deal with the economy that is dealt. Nobody knew that the collapse of the U.S. economy was going to be as significant as it turned out to be and to extend worldwide. Faced with that reality Harper did  a pretty good job and the government is recognized the world over as being in better shape than those in other G8 countries.

          You can badmouth the oilsands but you should be damn happy we have them. Think of the shape the economy would be in today without energy exports.

          We should be congratulating the government for being proactive when it comes to extending the qualifying OAS date to 67 from 65. Of course the usual fearmongers are doing their level best to try and create the perception that the world is about to end. Harper could easily have kicked this can down the road like the Libs did but he decided it was in the best interest of the country.

          People like you will worry about the strategies, tactics and process but Canadians in 4 years will look at the results and will compare the Conservatives to what is on offer in the other parties come the next election.

          • Thanks for reinforcing my point.  Harper has yet to deliver prosperity and by your own admission he couldn’t see what was happening to the economy when everyone else could, which certainly suggests no posperity will be delivered before the next election, except in Alberta and Saskatchewan.  You are right that corporations can locate offshore if they want, and the $400 billion in cash reserves they built up from Harper’s tax giveaways will be what they use to finance plants in China.  . 

          • Your comments are utter nonsense and you know it. Prosperity?  What does that mean. You want somebody to hand it to you on a silver platter. You want more government handouts. You don’t want to take responsibility for your own life.

            You can argue against corporate tax cuts but those policies have been in place for years. The Chretien regime was doing it and so I have to believe that the government believes that lower taxes will attract new investment, encourage investment by existing companies and both of these actions should create jobs.That’s how you get prosperity my friend.

            Try doing some homework because the wealth created in Alberta and Saskatchewan is spread across the country not to mention the equalization payments that are funded by the taxes paid by the oil and gas companies to the federal treasury from which equalization is paid. How many people are working in the oil sands that live in other provinces. Where do you think oil and gas companies buy their products. Much is in Ontario.

            The reason the companies are sitting on cash reserves is because the investment climate stinks around the world. Do you not know what is happening in Europe. Unless companies have sales growth they are not going to invest. They are not an arm of the government nor a charity.

            The makeup of  the economy is changing and it is a reality in every country in the world that companies are going to go where they can lower their costs. I guess Harper should nationalize industries so that he can control where they do business (sarcasm intended).

  2. Natural resource industries are high-technology industries.  Natural resource industries are high wage industries..  Natural resource industries invest heavily in R&D, engineering, and design.  That is what you “morons” in the central Canadian media establishment continually fail to realize.

    And all that supports the creative and the financial industries of central Canada.Even the lower-skill jobs in natural resource industries are relatively highly paid.

    Manufacturing is mostly low wage because it is can be off-shored, is low-tech (see Foxconn).

    The high tech, high wage, high margin part of natural resources industries has shifted to the extraction side over the processing side, because the processing side is more like manufacturing.

    Natural resources are increasingly scarce, and hence harder to get at and extract.  Which is why the finding and extraction produce the high wage jobs (and profits to support social programs).  Less so their processing, which is a spread business, that low wage countries can use cheaper labour to compete with.

    • I’m trying to find where I wrote all the stuff you seem to think you’re rebutting. 

      • I was not rebuffing your column.  I was trying to reinforce your column.  It was a pre-emptive strike against the so-called progressive yahoos.

        • Namely, that the highly-skilled, highly paid, difficult to offshore jobs, the desirable jobs flow more from natural resources, than from the archaic notion that they flow from manufacturing.

          Manufacturing in the high tech, high knowledge economy for those directly involved in manufacturing is a low wage ghetto, unless the manufacturing is highly automated, and the few people who manage the automated manufacturing process are highly paid.  Manufacturing, like refining, is a necessity, but a low margin cuthroat spread business.  The high margins and high wages and the desirable jobs are elsewhere.

          There are not large numbers of highly paid jobs available in manufacturing anymore, and never will be.  The value-added in manufacturing is in the design (see Apple or Packers Plus).

          • You’re dreaming in technicolor on the design part.  That doesn’t last.  Where the stuff is made becomes where the design happens.  If you know nothing about making something, you lose the ability to design it, and if you are the people who make it you gain both the ability and the motivation to design your own.
            We found that out in the previous runs of this movie, such as Japan and Taiwan.  Back when, Japan just copied everything; design work was all in America.  Not quite the same any more, huh?

            Resource extraction is high-tech.  But it is high-tech because somebody manufactured something to use for extracting resources.  And exactly like manufacturing, the higher tech it gets the fewer jobs it provides; that’s the real reason so many timber-oriented communities in BC have been hollowed out.  The only way to stop that is by integrating value-added for those resources–but value-added is, again, manufacturing.  Instead the right prefers to export raw logs and raw crude.  When I think of all the things that get profitably done with petroleum, from simple refining into gasoline to waxes and plastics and lubricants and who knows what all, and we ain’t doing none of ’em because of too much free trade and too much foreign ownership and a badly valued dollar, all of which the right think are the bees’ knees.  It’s moronic.

          • Germany refutes you. Sure RE pays a good wage, but who designs and engineers half the machinery and equipment we use? Sure people are getting by on subsistence wages in Germany and Japan; at least half your thesis is partisan twaddle.

        • Uh, but you specifically targeted “…”morons” in the central Canadian media establishment..”?

          The leftwing partisans posting here hardly fit that description.

          • central Canadian media establishment and left sign partisans….

            …you say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe.

          • Nice. So you’ll have no problem if I call CPC supporters hypocrites from now on, even before they’ve provided evidence of such?

    • “Natural resources are increasingly scarce, and hence harder to get at and extract.”

      Hence the reason we need a more balanced economy; non-renewable resources eventually run out. It’s why they are referred to as “non-renewable.” Most of our current resources promise decades of work before they are tapped out, true, but run out they eventually will.

      Farming and forestry hold out better hope for the long term – but only if we husband them better than we have our fisheries.

      Wells is right – the CPC is playing to the resources because that’s where the easy growth is, short-term. And yes, manufacturing can be – and is being – exported to cheaper labour markets (though as the wages continue to rise in those countries, and the cost of transporting goods increases, that trend seems to be slowing).

      I don’t agree with Robert (1st comment on this thread) that Harper’s playing to the resources is, in and of itself, a losing strategy, but the way he either ignores or antagonizes [see back-to-work legislation forcing workers to take less than employers offered] the other sectors certainly doesn’t help his cause (which appears to be more about getting reelected than accomplishing anything).

      I’ll say it again: balanced growth is the key to the long-term health of this country. Not playing sectors / regions off against one another. It may not be the easiest road, but it is the one that’s in the best interests of all.

      • “Farming and forestry hold out better hope for the long term ”
        You do realize that the non-sustainability of agriculture is the biggest challenge facing the world over the next century.   The world only has about a 100-year supply of phosphorous.
        You know, a real problem, not like the fake ones the “beautiful people” are currently hysterical about.

        In a century, it is highly probable the world will not be able to feed itself because there is no phosphorous for fertilizer.  A couple hundred years after than, the phosphorous problem becomes compounded by a potassium problem.

        • I like the way you completely ignored the second half of my statement – “but only if we husband them better than we have our fisheries.” That’s a critical piece of the puzzle.

          Yes, there are lots of problems with our current agricultural practices – including turning good farmland into suburbs here in southern Ontario. Without a doubt our practices will have to change if we are to have long-term sustainability – and our cheap food (in terms of percentage of income consumed) will almost certainly go away. Be prepared to see it consume a greater part of our income down the road.

          But the potential for sustainability is there; it is a renewable resource, unlike the tar sands or Labrador ore. That’s the point I was making; I certainly did not pretend, as you imply, that I was ignoring the problems the industry will face.

          As a Newfoundlander who saw the collapse of our chief industry (fishing) due to a lack of foresight and proper husbanding of what should have been an infinitely renewable resource, I am well aware that we humans, with our short-term greed, can destroy our own futures. But I also know we can learn from our mistakes, so there is always hope.

    • Natural resources provide about one tenth as many long term jobs as does manufacturing in proportion to capital required.  The vast majority of jobs from natural resource activity are related to the initial construction, which means a boom and bust cycle wherever it occurs.  Revenue from natural resources, especially the portion passed to governments, is notoriously cyclical, which is why many governments in western Canada have seen deficits repeatedly.  Ask any Albertan about the bumper stickers that say “Please god let us have another oil boom and this time we promise not to piss it away”.  So far our government’s plan is to tie our economy to crude oil sales and export manufacturing jobs. 

      • That argument has a lot of assumption behind it that are no longer true. It is looking at too short a window.  There are economic cycles which shifts where the economic value from the production of goods and services comes from.  

        1) Technology has commodified mass manufacturing.  The economic margins in manufacturing is all in niche manufacturing…i.e. in the design and engineering of new smart less-labour intensive manufacturing.  Most manufacturing is becoming like the refining is the oil business…a low spread, low margin, mostly uneconomic business, that is done out of necessity.2) Late in the twentieth century, countries where billions of people had lived in subsistence poverty, adopted more democratic market orientated economics, and the next century we are going to see literally billions of people move from subsistence poverty to a global middle class (i.e. electricity and indoor plumbing), so whereas the 20th century was the century of natural resource abundance, where the world used up most of the miracle fuel (oil), the 21th century will be a century of natural resource scarcity, which also shifts where the economic value in the production of goods and services is, where the “wealth” is created that pays for the social services we require.The economic value in this century is in design, in ideas, and in scarce natural resources.  Specialty or niche manufacturing, yep.  Mass manufacturing, nope. For the foreseeable future, the people and countries with ideas and stuff win, and well, ultimately, the country with the smartest, most productive, and most innovative people win.  The wealth from natural resource scarcity (not from manufacturing) provides Canada with the economic advantage over most other countries to produce the smartest best trained people.  People are mobile though, so the economic challenge for any country is creating a country where your highly skilled people want to live, and where highly skilled people from other places want to live. 

    • Energy extraction accounts for 1% of GDP. Manufacturing accounts for 11% of GDP though it once was 20% of the economy, and manufacturing wages compared to the service sector are not low wage jobs. There simply isn’t enough employment in the resource sector to support the Canadian economy. Favouring the resource sector over the manufacturing sector is a poor industrial strategy that will hollow out our economy even further. It is time the government tried to balance the interest of the various regions of this country rather than pitting once region against another. At the end of the day Ontario still has 38% of the population and 40% of the GDP and it isn’t likely that Ontario voters will rush to support Harper if their economy continues to falter. He managed to scrape together enough seats because the economy looked to be on the rebound. It’s stagnated again and Harper’s economic management is more fluke then competence. We’ll have to see in 2015 where the economy stands. I wouldn’t put my money on a resurgent economy and that makes Harpers re-election problematic

  3. Damn that was a good column! 

  4. I usually think your analysis is excellent, Paul, but there are some weird generalizations here. Conservatives are unabashed champions of farming? Unabashed champions of Monsanto and international corporate factory farms, maybe, but certainly not anyone who depends on the wheat board, or the farmers near the Mega Quarry in southern Ontario, to name just a couple of examples. I agree the Tories are champions of oil and gas and mining – industries that have a tendency to devastate industries like farming, forestry and fisheries – in addition to manufacturing, which is still a big part of the economy (even if its an increasingly smaller part of the job market, admittedly). Plus, I don’t see a lot of wood-hewing and water-drawing in the 905 region of Toronto, for instance, where a lot of these new seats are being created. There’s a lot more of that in Nathan Cullen’s riding, for example. 
    I’m not sure what tax-cutting has to do with any of this. The real question is who benefits from natural resources on Canadian lands – foreign corporations like Shell or Sinopec, or Canadians in general. Are these resources being taxed appropriately, or is the tax burden falling on individual Canadians to subsidize these resources and these companies? Should the resources be used to create jobs here, or shipped out in raw form to create jobs in other places? Resource Imperialism is a good term – but the question becomes, how many of us are the imperialists, and how many of us are left behind? 

    • I see those big bank towers in the centre of the 416.  Is not Toronto the centre of investment banking for mining, and one of the most important ones for oil & gas in the entire world?  Did not China Investment Corp (China’s sovereign wealth fund) chose Toronto over New York as its first North American site because of natural resources.

      Drive down the 427 lately, and see those SNC Lavalin signs on the a few of the buildings?

      Oil and gas is no longer just dropping a straw into the earth.  The work to support the oilsands is spread across the country.  Ditto all those mines being built.  A potash mine is not a simple or inexpensive thing to build.

      Those pipelines that are being build will enable bringing massive skilled trades training to aboriginal nations that are smart enough to take advantage of it.  Those skills don’t disappear. 

      Saskatchewan is one of the world’s leading producers of pulse crops.  It didn’t need a Canadian Pulse and Lentils Board.  Saskatchewan is also one of the world leaders in value added processing of pulse crops.  Saskatchwean is NOT one of the world leaders is value added processing of wheat crops.

      Sprott Resource has partnered with some Saskatchewan aboriginal groups, Sprott bringing capital and training, the aboriginal nations contributing land, to bring high-tech farming to some reserves in Saskatchewan.

      The ignorance of you post is what I described in my first one.  You don’t even see to know where the value-added is in the resource industries.  You just have this 19th century ideas about resource industries and manufacturing industries.

      Paul…you spent a week at the Perimeter Institute.  Why don’t you spend a week with Packers Plus?  Or are you only interested in philosophical problems, rather than solving real world problems?

      P.S. That quarry is a provincial issue, not a federal one.  I know so-called progressives never read the damn constitution.

  5. “Most of the party’s support came at the Liberals’ expense. That’s not a path to power.”

    Do you actually expect us to buy that?  The NDP took seats from Conservatives, Liberals and mostly the Bloc.  Your entire analysis is discredited based on your upfront lie.

    • Hey everyone, we found the guy who thinks “most” means “all.”

      But Greg does offer an important insight. If the NDP takes another 60 seats from the Bloc, there’s no way the Conservatives can win.

      • LOL

        Now now Paul, let’s not feed the mushroom-trolls.

  6. Any student of Paul’s Harper articles and analysis knows that the PM never rests on his laurels and is constantly (and frustratingly) thinking ahead to the next issues, strategy, voters etc.  Both Libs and NDP are trying to win the next election on past and current strategy while Harper is yet again concentrating on new voters, issues and strategy.  I can’t stand the man but he is showing himself consistently to be a better strategist than the other parties.  It doesn’t seem like the democratic, constitutional and attack-dog outrages that his government are perpetrating is having any effect on the general population other than a scorched earth feeling towards politics in general.

    • This is why the opposition and the media are in hysterics these days. He is governing as he sees fits and it is driving them crazy because they do not have the control they had over the past five years.

      So there will be screaming headlines like there were for the past five years and Canadians will continue to live their lives. At the end of the term Canadians will say did the Conservatives manage the economy in a very difficult global environment. I suspect they will say yes and re-elecf the Conservative government.

      • I always find it utterly bizarre when free marketers talk about the government ‘managing’ the economy. There’s precious little that the government can do over the short term to ‘manage’ the economy. You can tweak the long term direction, perhaps. Government is mostly for staying out of the way, except in the areas where there is market failure and it is needed to put in place a socially efficient solution.

  7. Most of the party’s support came at the Liberals’ expense. That’s not a path to power.”

    And Harper’s support in 2006 in the aftermath of the sponsorship scandal was not also at the Liberals’ expense?  I think your fundamental thesis is fallacious.

    • There were 2.5 million fewer Liberal voters in the 2011 election, the last election before the arrival of the next NDP leader, than there were in the 2000 election, the last election before Stephen Harper became Conservative leader. If I ate a pizza yesterday, you cannot eat my  pizza today. I don’t even see why this is hard to understand.

      • It’s exactly why Nathan needs to do well, no?

  8. Only Ontario and Quebec ever industrialized….the ROC is pre-industrial.

    However since then Ont/Que have diversified, and manufacturing is now a much smaller part of our economy as we switched to first a service economy and now a knowledge one.

    When Canadians think of ‘manufacturing’ they only seem to think of the auto industry, and that has been hit badly…..however Germany is riding high on manufacturing of all manner of things….. and their workers make $50 an hour, and sit on company boards. And Germany has very little in the way of natural resources.

    So Ont can do the same to revive it’s manufacturing sector….while it moves forward on green tech and all the other new things.

    Pre-industrial Canada ….Harp’s base….is always keen to tell economies several stages ahead of them how to run things, but that’s simply not going to work.

    • “Only Ontario and Quebec ever industrialized….the ROC is pre-industrial.”

      Yep, those Albertans and their pre-industrial woodsands!  What insights can these troglodytes possibly have to offer to Ontario’s massively successful green tech economy?

      • Exactly!

        None whatever.

      • We love you too! Not. You are being facetious I hope.

  9.  Creative economy does create jobs. A lot of them. There’s more people in GTA than in Prairies combined. And most of them do something for a living other than mining and farming.

     Problem is, Harper doesn’t know how to handle that economy, and the second problem is, a lot of people in the area still believe otherwise. If Harper’s mismanagement of isotopes will lose hundreds of highly skilled people their jobs, it will be a whole different game.

     Harper’s lack of skill already cost Magna the Opel deal.

    •  In fact, there are about six communities on the prairies that have more people than my apartment building.

  10. Brian Topp?! BRIAN TOPP!?  hehe

    I always thought that you understood Harper so well because you think alike, not about the same stuff, but are very strategical and pay attention to so much detail. And now you backing Topp, confirms it!  :)

    I agree with you somewhat. Topp has a few pluses on his side, but can we really take Harper the original and a Harper caricature at once? I think not, and even though I agree that charm can be learned, still think he can’t make NDP grow.

    Now I am a little bias, really like Paul Dewar and french truly can be learned ; )

  11. “To caricature, the NDP is the party of wage earners in manufacturing, a sector in long term decline.”  Mr Wells, when I read this sentence I double checked to make sure you weren’t describing just the NDP in Ontario because your description of the NDP is inaccurate regarding British Columbia.  BC is pretty much a stranger to anything other than resource extraction.  Sorry to say this but your caricature was a tad too Ontario-centric.  What you call ‘resource imperialism’ in some ways is what the BC Social Credit and BC (so-called) Liberals have been running on for decades.  And it’s the lack of a value-added industry in this province that is a source of tension.    Seen from a BC perspective, the NDP seems like a better bet to figure out a strategy for dealing with ‘resource imperialism’ than the LIberal party who might be better described as a party of “manufacturing, a sector in long term decline”.  (And as an aside, may I suggest Stan Persky’s books on the BC Social Credit Party for the dirty political tricks they used to aid their election campaigns.  Gracie’s ‘finger’ is a particular favourite.)  

  12. From the Liberal perspective, let’s hope you’re right. Brian, Brian, Brian!

    • Why? I see Topp as the worst choice from a lib perspective. He’s a good strategic thinker; he’s not an idealogue and he really dislikes libs whatever he may say publically- a centrist too. He’s bad news for libs IMO- no cooperation either.

  13. mulcair having dual citizenship (France) makes him the favourite of quebecers. the separatists have always dreamed of becoming a province of France again. 

  14. Wells as usual has a handle on what is coming. The media is in hysterics about robocalls, internet snooping etc. etc. and as John Gomley rightly pointed out today most Canadians will not buy into the hysterics come the next election. They did not buy into the fake contempt of Parliament and they will not buy into the theatrics taking place among the media today.

    No matter who the NDP elect as their leader Canadians will not trust anything that comes out of their mouths. It will be the same stuff we have heard ad nauseum for 30 years. To think the libs could win 100 seats is to live in some fantasy land even if they win more seats in Quebec.

    As well, Rae is still carrying the baggage of his time as the failed NDP premier of Ontario. With the economy being the focus of the government and Canadians the opposition are going to have a hard time dethroning the Conservatives come the next election.

    • What makes you think PWs thinks sleazy Tory tactics are fine just because he’s reporting on Harpers political strategy? Making ludicrous assumptions and claiming to speak for all Canadians is your bag isn’t it?

      • I don’t speak for all Canadians. However,  i can read the polls and see the numbers. You may not like it but those are the facts man.

        You can continue to focus on strategies, tactics and process but dare I say Canadians have proven that they care less about these things. They are interested in results. From their perpsective the government is delivering results.

        • But you do speak for all canadians and you continue to do so, three sentences in,only this time it’s an unequivocal assertion: ” Canadians” don’t care about process; presumably because you don’t care.Your last sentence is a doozy – are you drunk?

          • Of course the NDP use of robocalls is perfectly acceptable to you but when the Conservatives use it is bad, bad, bad despite the fact there is no evidence that the party knew what was going on. Try to be fair and wait for the various investigations to be completed. Of course that would not fit into your narrative.

            I don’t speak for Canadians but I do read polls and of course we have the results of the May 2nd election which clearly showed the Conservative government was the preferred option. Canadians ignored all the hysteria during the election, five years of faux scandals and the trumped up contempt charged. I think it was pretty obvious. You can have your Bob Rae.

            In response to your personal insult I would simply say get stuffed.

          • Try being fair yourself. The ndp robocalls were aimed at constituents that may have been pissed off that their mp crossed the floor.Nothing wrong with that. It might be construed as intimidation as Rae said but it was not an illegal attempt to suppress the vote. As for waiting for the process to wprk out as far as CPC guilt goes, sure. But it is laughable coming from such a hollow respecter of the process as you yourself.

        • With the caveat that I have no idea today what will ultimately be proven re: robocalls, I could see this being a very different “process” story. I agree most Canadians don’t care if the media or opposition feel ill-treated, but this is about us, and our votes, and that actually matters.

          • While I don’t support the use of robocalls it is hardly a new phenonom in politics. In fact I think the NDP used it recently to hurt their member who crossed to the Libs.

            I think unless there is a smoking gun somewhere they will have a hard time finding and proving whoever did it. Like most electoral laws they are pretty general and even if they find the culprit they would have a hard time prosecuting.

            I am not defending the practice. However, there is no proof the Conservative party was involved (yet) but the hysterics in the media who are not prepared to give the benefit of the doubt or to wait until the investigation is complete is telling.  

          • The dippers use of robocalls in that case was not at all comparable – in fact it was rather clever, not at all illegal or even inappropriate. Although Rae did complain it was intimidation but i put that down to politics.

  15. “WELLS: Most of the party’s support came at the Liberals’ expense. That’s not a path to power. .”

    Ergo growth is going to be difficult without either, killing off the libs or convincing Canadians there is a better way forward than digging up the whole country and putting it on E bay. The libs now have potentially more room to maneuvre than the dippers if they play it smart.Personally i’d rather see the two or three opposition parties cooperate at least to the extent of punting Harper into touch and offering the country electoral reform – no more false majorities, Liberal or Conservative. 

    Never happen – the dippers can see the sky for the first time now; they just don’t know there aren’t enough rungs on the existing electoral ladder for them to break through on their own.

    • Unless support for the Conservatives collapses in the next election where will the Libs get the votes. Yes they will make gains in Quebec (probably) and maybe some upward movement in the Maritimes but the Conservatives have broken into Ontario in a big way and it is hard to knock off incumbents. With the addition of more seats in Conservative friendly ridings the job for the Libs will be even harder.

      The idea of a coalition will not fly. If anything I suspect the Bloc will come back in Quebec and the Libs will continue to hold on to the island. The NDP will lose most of their base in Quebec and in fact could lose seats in the ROC given their strident attempts to woe Quebecers which I suspect has bothered a lot of Canadians in the ROC.

      We do agree that the Dippers are really living in a fantasy world if they honestly believe they have any chance of forming the government after the next election. Libs will probably be official opposition unless they continue with their inability to espouse policies that will attract voters. NDP will return to 3rd or 4th place in the House.

      • “Unless support for the Conservatives collapses in the next election where will the Libs get the votes.”

        If they get them it’ll be where they always get them – back off the dipppers[ Quebec &Ontario, possibly BC] and the CPC[ mostly Ontario, some in BC] and the maritimes.

        A coalition could indeed fly, if it is sold openly and with public approval – if you check polls well after 2008 the majority had no problem with coalition…the problem had more to do with personalities…Ignatieff just couldn’t fire up liberals, let alone anyone else. Not that i think Libs or dippers are reallly interested in a merger either, but a coalition is a perfectly legit part of our system notwithstsnding Harper’s theatrics and flat out lying about its legitimacy. i’ve come to the conclusion that personalities and who the leader is are almost the most imortant factor in Canadian federal politics. If the libs or the dippers come up with a compelling leader who knows what warts the public will overlook that they were not willing to overlook in the case of MI for instance.

        No one who is honest has a clue what is going to happen in Quebec – not even the pro pundits; i think there’s a fair amount of daylight between Wells and Hebert for instance. In any case Quebecers aren’t going to let AB or the west intimidate them into making the choice that best relects their interests. Despite our differences let’s just hope they continue to stick with a federalist choice.

        I didn’t quite say the dippers can’t win. Topps message that we can do more to turn Canada into a value added, greener economy will resonate [ if he wins] with more people than SH imagines. I imagine so much will depend on the state of both the global and our economy by 2015 – if it remains uncertain than Harper’s plan to extend the AB franchise to the RoC will be tough to fight successfully. A lot of water will flow under the bridge before we know the answer to that question.

  16. So Harper’s strategy is to focus on the basics of Canada’s resource economy because the NDP can’t compete on that turf.

    Ok, but the NDP’s performance in the last election seemed like a bit of a fluke.  Does it seem likely that they’ll continue to enjoy huge success in Quebec?  If not, and if the LPC goes back to fiscal conservatism, then Harper’s strategy (as interpreted by Wells) is a losing one.

    Unless, I guess, either (a) the LPC is so dysfunctional that they simply can’t offer serious competition in 2015 no matter whom they nominate, or (b) in an election between two fiscally conservative Canadian parties, the incumbent wins, or (c) the unstated-but-implicit inertia of the Conservatives with respect to leftward social policy shifts is enough of a positive differentiation from a fiscally conservative, socially leftist party.

    (a) might be true, but I doubt a good tactician would rely on it. I’m inclined to think (b) and (c) are where Harper’s head is at. I’m not convinced of (b), but (c) strikes me as a winner.

    • Do you honestly believe that the Libs under Rae will go fiscally conservative? I think your (b) scenario is the most likely outcome.

      • No not under Rae, but he’s supposed to be short-term, right?

        The LPC successes of the 90’s were partly due to their fiscal conservatism. I assume they’ll look to that model and try to revive it.

        • I hope they tack right, myself. I’d love to vote for non-ideological pragmatic fiscally conservative party with socially liberal/libertarian principles. I suspect a decent part of the population could be on board with that–it seems like the centre to me.

          • I hope they tack right too, regardless of where the centre is. I’d love to have a better option to vote for than the CPC, and I think in general it’s really unhealthy when the ruling party has no serious competition. They’re already unimpressive – give them another few years and they’ll be as repulsive as the Chretien Liberals were.

  17. Dear NDP leadership candidates,
    Mass immigration to Canada is causing serious harm to working Canadians of all races by constantly increasing the competition for scarce jobs and straining social programs that working Canadians rely on.  “Family Class” immigration in particular seems almost designed to strain social programs to the breaking point by bringing in more and more “takers” who will never pay into the system as much as they take out.  This is one of the root causes of Ontario’s unprecedented debt crisis. 
    Do any of you politically correct lemmings have anything to say about this?

  18. Oops…that was for Andrew not PorC

    Agreed. The liberals have to pick their new leader with this in mind. I’d love to see someone like Nenshi run for the party. Not sure of his economic credentials but i like the cut of his jib and he is charismatic to boot; the party pooh bahs would no doubt prefer Carney.
    If Rae stays on [ he is a good retail politician] he must pick or ally himself with a FM with a strong background in business fundimentals.
    i just want to see the country return to a govt that respects process and the rule of law and does not resort to wedge politcs and character assasination at the slightest sign of unrest among the natives or opposition parties – hell at this point in my life i might even be pursuaded to go with a principled PC party, but one that first ditches the Harris clowns and King Steve of course.

  19. The last I heard, population growth was a big city problem. Don’t think most urban developments have the wood-hewing crowd knocking on the real estate agents door. I’m sure the new leader of the NDP can live with the task at hand. In fact, it’s as though we are witnessing the perfect storm in slow motion – global turmoil, energy affordability, climate change, growing populations, economic dysfunction. Traditional conservative preoccupations are becoming less of a priority, and considering these are the same preoccupations my grandmother lamented I would say that they simply haven’t evolved.

  20. I find the article thought provoking and interesting without a partisan bias. The comments  however are for a large part hateful, partisan and uninspriring.

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