Saturday, October 22, 2011

Any one of the NDP's Two and a Half Men would make a good leader & PM

The NDP now have three good candidates for their top job: The Fighter, The Dealer and The Visionary.

Both Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair have decades of experience in practical politics, with Mulcair on the hustings and Topp in the proverbial smoke-filled backrooms, cutting the deals and managing the issues needed to win elections.

Of these two, my preference is Mulcair, because he has fire in his belly, and will fight Stephen Harper to a standstill during the next four years and on the campaign trail, not to mention the debates.

Topp won't do as well, but he is shrewd, and his advice was regarded by Jack Layton and other NDP leaders as invaluable. 

He is not as nimble on his feet when speaking, and if he wins the leadership will need to go through a vigorous training in public debating during the whole of the next 3 ½ years (which could be shorter if Harper decides to call a snap election before the Liberals have elected a leader and he or she has had a chance to find their feet, and before Topp can learn what is needed to slug it out in public).
Thomas Mulcair

Both men would be far better choices to become prime minister than the present incumbent. Canada would be better off with either of these men at the helm, than Harper. Both would lead a far more progressive Canada, with far more compassion for its citizens, and with far greater respect in the world for its deeds than the Tories have done.

Of these two, I rank Mulcair at the moment as the most winnable, but the disdain that Harper is showing for our democracy, and the actions they Tories have taken and will continue to take in the next few years will make it easier for Topp to best Harper in 2015.

But the man I think might be the most winnable candidate is Nathan Cullen.

He has burst upon the scene with a display of passion that matches Mulcair, strategy that exceeds Topp, and an appreciation for the hunger that the majority of voters in Canada have had for 3 elections now, to move away from the mean spirited, divisive, right wing politics the Harper new Tories have imported from the slimy bottom of American political life.
Nathan Cullen

Cullen right now shows signs of being the one man who could sweep the Tory government out of power come the next election. 

He has examined the political dynamic at play and put his finger on a very practical way to oust the Tory government by having the three opposition parties cooperate to change the government.

His plan is daring, and workable. It shows a shrewd sense of political vulnerabilities on the part of the Tories, by targeting the 21 ridings where the Tory majority is razor thin, and by offering to non-Tory voters a chance that was unimaginable a week ago: To vote Tory MPs out of office in those weakly held ridings.

Cullen's strategic grasp of our political contours, and his realism trumps that of both Topp and Mulcair.

If the Dippers decide to vote for him (probably as the second choice of both Topp and Mulcair supporters during the election, as neither of these two seems set to win an absolute majority on the first ballot), then I could see this man standing up to Harper in Parliament, matching principle against guile.

He would also best Harper in the debates, where Harper does not perform well (remember the frozen eye gaze, the muttered slogans, the obvious discomfort in such an uncontrollable situation? This is not a man who delights in the give or take of free spirited debate; he has the attitude and instincts of a man used to ordering, not discussing).

Cullen is comfortable in his own skin to a degree that Stephen  Harper has never been, and this will allow Cullen to more than hold his own against Harper in the years leading up to the next election, and once the writ has dropped.

And Cullen has one great advantage over Topp, Mulcair and Harper: he is the closest we have right now to representing the Canadian Arab Spring. In that sense, he has inherited Jack Layton's mantle, but a generation younger.
Brian Topp

And we can expect hundreds of thousands of young voters to flock to the polls to  support someone they feel comfortable with.

So if Nathan Cullen wins the leadership and enters the election at the head of the NDP, then all bets are off regarding voter turnout.

The Canadian Spring might just take place not in its streets, but in its voting booths, as desperate Candians seek to recapture the soul of their country from the barbarians now holding it hostage.


  1. I think you are absolutely correct. Though Cullen is not a totally outsider candidate, he is a step forward toward a younger, more energized, more community oriented politician. Cullen is clearly the one who has inherited the Jack Layton legacy and the NDP would be crazy to vote for Muclair or Topp over him .

  2. I voted NDP in two of the last three elections. If Topp wins I won't vote for them again. This idea of raising taxes is non-sense. After all the work Jack Layton did to legitimize the NDP this guy is going to blow it all.

  3. kirbycairo, Cullen's combination of energy, outside the nine dots thinking, and especially his inclusive strategy would be very attractive to Quebec voters (who themselves have a social democrat background, and burst out of the nine dots with a vengeance on May 2) which will eat into Mulcair's centre of gravity. It will also be very attractive in BC, the Maritimes and especially in Ontario. The lessons of the two upset victories in Alberta (mayor and premier) are clear: people running for office with ideas, not slogans, who are prepared to debate them, who relish involvement of voters in their campaigns and in their administration post-election, are like magnets for the jaded, despairing of ALL parties. Cullen has enormous cross-party appeal potentially.

    Anon, even if Topp wins, vote NDP as you have in the past. The next government will be a minority one, and Topp won't have a free hand to increase taxes willy nilly.

  4. If people like Anon would shy away from voting NDP because of some minor hike on taxes among the richest, say, 10%, then he probably too little understanding of why he or she voted NDP in the first place. The fact is that corporate taxes are at a historical low everywhere in the Western world and it the policy is just making the rich richer. Meanwhile, wealthy people with a good accountant can pay very little tax. The disaster in Greece has much more to do with out of control banks and the rich avoiding taxes than it has to do with anything else. When a society, any society, suffers from an extreme difference in wealth between rich and poor, that society is headed for a break down. The NDP is the only party that even seems to be aware of this let alone willing to do anything about it.

  5. KC and Anon - the framing by Lakoff (see my recent post) of The Public (with regards to the OWS movement) is brilliant - it explains why taxes are good, and why everyone benefits, and shreds the right wing No tax increase framing. Pity that Brian Topp did not frame it that way - but this is not surprising: Canadian politicians are incredibly inept when it comes to framing, and seem not to have noticed the Lakoffs of the world. So Topp will reap a firestorm from the Tories if he wins or loses the leadership race, and will pay a price he could have blunted and turned upon itself if he paid attention to the realities of political framing.

    I don't think raising taxes is a bad idea - if the money is needed for good causes; but the framing is critical given the simplistic anti-state bias of the right wing in north America at this time.

    Topp goofed with his announcement; instead of coming off as a brave man prepared to fight for some common good, he came off as a simplistic Us versus Them tax the rich socialist. A pity - he should read Don't Think of an Elephant half a dozen times before he announces his next plank in his leadership platform.

  6. All I can say is that he is amazing: knowledgable, inclusive, well spoken, thoughtful, vibrant, & experienced in the House.

  7. whoever the NDP picks it will be at the risk of losing jobs and killing industry in Canada,Cullen would be worse :(


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