The Clash has a song, well had I guess, Should I stay or should I go? You have to be wondering if that will be the theme song for the NDP’s upcoming convention where they are going to be talking about Tom Mulcair. Expected to be certain and likely quite frenetic. The man is divisive but mildly so unlike Stephen Harper to say the least, and unlike Stephen Harper he failed to deliver big time when it counted.
Let’s rewind history just a bit back to the NDP’s glory days of May 2011. The NDP didn’t win that election and really they never had a chance too. But they did something incredible. On Jack Layton’s charm and tact and class they unseated the Liberals from their Official Opposition status. It was the crash heard from coast to coast to coast. Michael Ignatieff called it quits and the party was left with 34 elected MP’s. Dark days for sure for the Liberals but for the NDP it was the dawn of a new age. The NDP stopped seeing itself as a protest party and instead saw itself as a governing party. They could win.
Then Jack Layton got ill, his cancer was out of control, and he died. His charm and wit and signature smile – the smile that led the party was gone.
During the leadership contest it was clear Tom Mulcair, the party’s official and unofficial #2 man, was going to win and win he did. It wasn’t really much of a fight. He won.
Tom Mulcair changed the tone of the party from protest to governing. But that wasn’t all. He removed or perhaps killed the sense of fun that Jack Layton strove to bring to the party. The party was utterly serious and bland. Some days you couldn’t tell the NDP from the Conservatives. It was like seeing the old guy from Pixar’s Up arguing with himself as Mulcair and Harper went at it.
When the election was called in 2015 it was assumed to be a fight between the NDP and the Conservatives. That’s how it started but the NDP had come off of a massive and unprecedented win in Alberta unseating the Progressive Conservatives there. Folks, the NDP took Alberta’s government and thus Alberta which has always been the Mecca of the Canadian right wing. Gasp!
Then it all started to go south. You see Tom Mulcair campaigned from the middle but more importantly he campaigned on a simple message: ABC or Anybody But Conservatives. In doing so he gave a social license to all those people that didn’t like Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to vote to oust the Conservatives and not necessarily elect the NDP. That was dumb.
Why was it dumb? Well think about two things: election campaigns and the purpose of political parties.
First off, what is the purpose of a political party? Well it is to advance a set of ideas, its platform, by which individuals that share those ideas band together to win power and thus enact those ideas into law. They use the power of a collective or partnership to gain public support through branding, large scale fund raising, and name recognition. Next, what’s the purpose of an election campaign? Well that’s where the parties stand front and centre to seek public office on their platforms stating they are the party whose members you should elect.
Now you can see how Mr. Mulcair made his mistake. He abandoned those principles. He campaigned oust Mr. Harper but not elect himself and that’s what the voters did. They ousted Mr. Harper and voted for Mr. Trudeau. Mr. Mulcair as you may recall pushed the ABC or Anybody But Conservatives at every speech.
So should he go or should he stay? That’s the question. Mr. Martin quit when he lost the 2006 election. Mr. Dion quit when he lost the 2008 election. Mr. Ignatieff quit when he lost the 2011 election. Mr. Harper quit when he lost the 2015 election. Mr. Mulcair though seems to want to stick around. After all, party leaders get a few perks. Is Mr. Mulcair really in it for the perks though? I’ve always felt that New Democrats were more ideological and passionate about their beliefs. The cynicism seems out of place.
You might have detected that this post has been written with less flair and no f-bombs. Well I just couldn’t get as emotional about Mr. Mulcair because he’s not a guy you can get passionate about – politically speaking.
Maybe that’s the best reason for the NDP to toss him out. He’s not a leader that motivates.