Maybe He Doesn’t Really Want to be Prime Minister

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Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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20 Responses

  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    It’s karmic and it makes me want to drink heavily. The right was divided between Refoooorm and the Tories through much of the 90’s and early aughts. The left led by the center left (the Liberals) made productive use of this division and put the country on sound footing. Now the left is split between a strong NDP and a weakened Liberal party (with the abominable PQ doing their abominable thing) and the united right is running the nation to seed.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      The thing that drives me mental (OK, there are a few of them. A thing.) is that both the NDP and Liberals have come out in favour of electoral reform so the first-past-the-post nonsense that keeps giving the Tories a majority of seats with barely 35% of the votes will stop – but both parties’ leadership appear terrified of acknowledging or even discussing the fact that they’ll never get a chance to put those principles in action if they don’t cooperate on at least one election.Report

  2. Avatar Maribou
    Ignored
    says:

    Do you think there’s any chance the NDP could win?

    (Mostly just curious, I’m rightfully-disenfranchised from voting, since I’ve been away so long.)Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Maribou
      Ignored
      says:

      I doubt they can, God(ess?) love em. They have too much of a reputation for not being adults on economics (earned or unearned I dunno). The Liberals are too much of a refuge for centrist liberals and then there’s the Bloq (may they roast in hell) sitting like a bloated toad soaking up some of the (otherwise most) liberal parts of the electorate.Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to Maribou
      Ignored
      says:

      I tend to agree with North.

      If we look at the massive breakthrough that the NDP made last time there were two main factors:

      1. Jack Layton
      By sheer force of will and charisma, Layton changed the way people were willing to look at the NDP, and it was really catching lightning in a bottle. It took a long time for Layton to get past looking kind of Used Car Salesman-y and actually appearing like Prime Minister material. Without Layton, they have an automatic setback.

      Mulcair is no Layton. Layton displayed joy and love and hope in the last election (yeah, cliches all, but he came off as positive even when he was being as negative as the other leaders). Mulcair is an attack dog. He seems regularly angry and that’s not a great look (especially for the NDP, who are at a natural disadvantage as, historically, the third party).

      2. Quebec
      No one thought the NDP had a chance in Quebec, since they’ve never had a chance there, but with Layton and general distaste for the Liberals, Bloc and Tories, Quebec was willing to give the NDP a try. There’s no reason to believe that success is sustainable (at least to that degree).

      The NDP didn’t even have particularly strong candidates in Quebec, and I doubt that the other parties really worried about them. Next time around, you can bet the Bloc will be targeting them.

      Also, it wasn’t just Layton’s charm that led to the breakthrough; it was his cynical, opportunistic and thoroughly disgusting embrace of Bill 101, which epitomizes all the xenophobia that exists in Quebec. If the NDP continue to hang their hat on that, it will hurt them in the rest of Canada.

      And keep in mind, with the NDP’s big breakthrough in 2011, they were still 63 seats behind the Tories. So with their breakthrough in Quebec, the Liberals imploding, the failings of the Bloc and a really strong leader, they still weren’t that close to taking power. To me, that says that they have a long way to go before they have a serious chance to win.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jonathan McLeod
        Ignored
        says:

        I think the NDP have a shot. I’m amazed that we managed to win Québec, which I wouldn’t have thought would ever be possible. The NDP’s far closer to being able to form a government now than the Liberals are, in electoral terms; Mulcair’s done a far better job as Leader of the Official Opposition than any of the previous Liberal leaders, who were completely unsuccessful in trying to take on Harper; the NDP have clear policies that draw a distinction between their direction and the Conservatives, whereas Justin seems to have a shortage of concrete policies; and the NDP have a pre-existing support base.

        The Liberals don’t have any support base to start from. They had support in the Chrétien years due to a reputation for competent governance, plus support from corporations because they represented stability and continuity and there was no other prospective governing party. Now the corporations have ditched them for the conservatives, they haven’t been in government for a decade, and they’ve got nothing to inspire support except for a face and a name.

        I think Justin Trudeau is a decent guy, but he showed no interest in politics until recently, and said flat-out not too long ago that he never intended to go into politics. I get the sense he feels some kind of obligation to his father’s party now that they’re collapsing and have run out of other leadership candidates, but I don’t think he understands how big a job being prime minister really is.

        If the NDP can further expand their support base in Ontario and the West in the next election, they’ve got a good shot at forming a minority government with support from the Liberals. It’s a far better bet than expecting the Liberals to go from 30-some seats to being the governing party.Report

  3. Avatar Will Truman
    Ignored
    says:

    One thing I do envy about other systems compared to ours (in the US) is that there’s room for debate as to whether or not the future of liberalism is with the Liberals or the NDP. When I look at the problems that the GOP faces, I think that it could be a lot more fluid if there were a greater ability for another conservative or conservative-ish party to rise up and eat the GOP or alternately pose enough of a threat that the GOP responds to it. We got a bit of that with the Reform Party, but on the whole it’s just really tough for externally-pressured change.

    Of course, with Canada in particular, it’s a bit problematic because the NDP-Liberal divide gets you Prime Minister Harper (and the PC-Alliance gets you a Liberal government). So nothing is perfect. When I think of my ideal system, it actually involves a multiparty system with more firm coalitions (something to prevent the two liberal parties from getting a majority of the vote but a conservative prime minister).Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Will Truman
      Ignored
      says:

      I think an ideal-ish system could happen in Canada with one simple change – approval voting instead of first past the post.

      Then the Tory-or-bust voters can vote that way, and the anything-but-conservative voters can vote that way, and the anything-right-of-the-NDP voters can vote that way and so forth, and we can stop with the silly strategic voting and second guessing and third guessing, and get a result that actually represents a result the majority of voters can at least live with – and we can all stop worrying about who is splitting whose vote.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to dragonfrog
        Ignored
        says:

        I prefer the preferential ranking system, myself; that way I could vote NDP while also being able to indicate a second choice.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog
        Ignored
        says:

        I like that system also – really anything would be better than first past the post.

        I personally like approval voting in part for its virtue of simplicity and simple counting – it retains the property of our current system that it can all be hand counted on election night, and non-expert members of the public can witness the counting and satisfy themselves that no cheating took place. That’s an extremely powerful security property of our current elections.

        (Well, almost anything would be better – there’s always electoral colleges)Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    The grits?

    From this side of the border, that sounds like a deep south political party. Probably all white, and very distasteful.Report

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