Tuesday September 10, 2019
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday September 10, 2019
Do the Greens have what it takes to pass the NDP?
“The NDP,” Stockwell Day told CBC’s Power Panel last week, “is toast.”
The statement was somewhat surprising coming from the former Conservative cabinet minister, who had been defending NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s political potential for months. Not that surprising, though, given the number of people writing off the New Democrats these days.
Even Charlie Angus admitted a few days ago he’s been reading his party’s obituary for a long time. Angus insisted that obit isn’t ready to be printed, but his counter-argument was all about the kind of power New Democrats could enjoy in a minority government — one led by another party.
Singh himself all but acknowledged recently how low the party is setting its sights in 2019 when he ripped into Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over his 2005 comments on same-sex marriage. He said the NDP would not support a Conservative minority. But why would he even talk about a minority government at this point? Singh is supposed to be running to form a government of his own — not to prop one up (or knock one down).
I don’t like to write any party off. I remember how many people (in the media and outside of it) used to say it would be a cold day in hell before Justin Trudeau ever became prime minister. (Prior to the last election, you’ll remember, the Liberals were polling a distant third.)
The campaign changed things. That’s what campaigns do. I think just about anything could happen in the coming campaign as well.
But it’s pretty bleak out there for the Dippers right now: not a lot of cash in the coffers, polling below the Greens in Quebec (the single most important province for the party) and nowhere near a full slate of candidates in the days before the real campaign begins.
The natural heir to whatever ground the New Democrats have lost would appear to be the Green Party. But that isn’t a given.
First came an announcement that 14 New Democrats in New Brunswick, all provincial save for one member of the federal executive, were defecting to the Green Party because they didn’t like their chances as NDP candidates.
Then, one of the defectors told The Canadian Press and CBC Radio’s As It Happens he’s talked to people in the province who are uncomfortable with Singh’s religion.
A day went by and the NDP started calling around newsrooms, saying not all the people on the defectors’ list are actually leaving for the Greens. A handful came out publicly to say they’re sticking with the NDP. Singh said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May “has a lot to answer for.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May released a statement. “I won’t attack (Singh),” she says — after attacking him at length, accusing him of blowing off New Brunswick and reminding him that “being a federal party leader is hard work.” All of which should tell you that Trudeau and Scheer are quite right when they predict the coming campaign will be “nasty.”
The defectors story is complicated and weird. Does it point to organizational problems for the Greens and the NDP? Probably.
If the Greens orchestrated this regional coup, they need to work on their coup-making skills. Some of the people on the initial list of defectors reportedly thought they were simply talking about a merger with the Greens. Others said they didn’t even know they’d been added to the list. (One Green candidate in the Maritimes gulped when I called to ask about this week’s events, calling them “embarrassing.”) (CBC)