Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Litmus Test for selecting the new NDP and Liberal Leaders: What will remove Stephen Harper

Two leadership races of enormous consequence are taking place in Canada right now: the overt race to select a new leader to replace Jack Layton, and the covert race to select a permanent leader of the Liberal Party.
The electoral cooperation Pandora's Box

While many pundits and party members are talking about the policies (or lack thereof) of the nine contenders for the NDP leadership, and while the Liberal party brass have punted any discussion of Liberal policy into 2013-2014, the real test for the next leader for both parties just keeps on sneaking out into public view, despite efforts by party brass to keep the lid firmly shut on Pandora's Box.

The only and only real test that NDP and LPC supporters should be applying to those candidates seeking election as leaders of the two parties is a very simple one:

Does this man or woman understand that the main need of Canada right now is to remove Stephen Harper from his position of Prime Minister?

Pat Martin of the NDP gets it:

Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin says he is preparing to ramp up his demands for a merger or official co-operation between the NDP and the Liberal Party of Canada.
MP Pat Martin - The Realist amongst The Pygmies

His comments this week came just as a new poll was released suggesting nearly half of his own party's supporters also back the idea.

At the outset of the NDP leadership race, Martin said he would only support a candidate who pledged to co-operate or merge with the Liberals, as a united centre-left movement to defeat the Conservatives. He even went as far as to say he'd run for the leadership himself if no such candidate were to emerge.

And MP Nathan Cullen (author of the Cullen Plan) gets it:

Thus far, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen is the only one who has really even opened the door to co-operation. Cullen has proposed the Liberals and NDP and possibly the Green Party hold joint nominations to field just one candidate in Conservative-held ridings. He has ruled out a full merger saying it's too difficult.
MP Nathan Cullen - another realist

Thomas Mulcair of the NDP and Bob Rae of the LPC don't get it, while Brian Topp is closer to publicly saying what he must be privately thinking: if the NDP and LPC continue to fracture the non-Tory vote in the elections,  they are both helping Harper's 'new' Tories to continue to rule their country with around one third of the votes.

And the supporters of both the NDP and the LPC get it:

The strong NDP showing is interesting given the relatively high support among backers of the New Democrats and the Grits for a merger between the two parties. Despite resistance from both Rae and Turmel to such political matrimony, nearly 40% of Canadians believe a merger between the two is a viable option to defeat the Conservatives.

Bricker said the only real way for Harper to be defeated is for the Grits and the NDP to come together.

Rae has said that there are too many differences between the NDP and the Liberals for a merger to make sense. However, 41% of Liberal supporters said they like the idea, along with 44% of New Democrats.

Right now, there is less than 50% support amongst current supporters of the NDP and LPC for a total merger of both parties, which means the creation of a new party.

But, as past polls have shown, and as future polls will show, there is probably majority support in both the NDP and LPC for one or more of these options: an  electoral ceasefire similar to the Cullen Plan, and a coalition government of the two parties.

Sixty percent of Canadians are far ahead of the party brass of these two parties, and their desires will be heard, despite the ostrich-like reaction of the current candidates for leadership.

The NDP would be wise to seriously consider selecting either Pat Martin or Nathan Cullen as their new leader. And Liberals should start looking around for a few possible leaders who support electoral cooperation before and after the next election, to run in the new primaries, if that Liberal reform passes.

The proposed Liberal primary will give any potential candidate for leadership of the Liberal Party a substantially better chance of being elected, as the mass of voters (over 40%) in the Liberal Party could easily coalesce around candidates showing that they have a realistic appreciation of the realities of Canadian politics.

The Cat's Hat:

Heck, I'm even thinking of throwing my hat into the ring for Liberal leadership under the primary system, and running on a platform of pre-election electoral cooperation similar to the Cullen Plan, and post-election formal coalition government of the NDP and LPC.

Plus, of course, a commitment of the Liberal Party to implement as part of the coalition government a modified proportional representation system and other changes in our Parliament to remedy the democratic deficits of the country.

Run, Pat, run:

To Pat Martin I say: Run!
And may the wind be behind you.


  1. Aw, shucks! Thanks, Calivancouver.

  2. Once again I disagree, the main focus should not be to remove Harper but to elect a new leader with sound fiscal policies and sensable social policies which will help Canada.
    Find this leader and Harper is history

  3. This is the best blog I've read in a long time. Either Topp, Mulcair and Rae are just pretending there are no merger talks, or their own personal ambition for being party leaders is more important than removing the worst PM we've ever had. Cullen and Martin are the only open guys about this and it's time for others to grow a pair. I'm not necessarily saying to merger, but there should AT LEAST be cooperation.

  4. Anon, the deal could be a simple one: something like the Cullen Plan of pre-election electoral ceasefire in certain agreed seats, and a pre-election coalition agreement along the lines of the UK one, with a rider that if either the NDP or the LPC win a majority, the coalition deal dies.

    My guess is that many of the new breed of Liberal supporters who could qualify to vote in the Liberal primary, would also find a candidate with such a platform immensely attractive.

    Add that group to the many Liberal party members who desperately want cooperation because they realize that Harper will just yet again divide and conquer and ride into power again, and we have a very good chance of a Liberal leader being chosen on such a platform.

    And then the Harper Tories will be gone, and a new era of more progressive government for our country will dawn.

    Anon, I'll put you down as a possible supporter of The Cat's run for leader of the LPC in the primaries ... any others out there willing to consider The Cat's run on the above platform?


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