Tag Archives: NDP

Jack Layton – Right Person, Wrong Party, Perfect Combo

By Jason Menard

When I think about Jack Layton, I believe he was the right person in the wrong party – and I don’t think he’d have had it any other way.

I should clarify. It was the wrong party for us, but absolutely the right party for Jack. And, as a result, his legacy will be with us for years to come – and, hopefully, he’s inspired a new generation of Canadians to take an interest in politics.  Continue reading

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Will Liberals be Served Crow on a Much Cosier Table?

By Jason Menard

Remember the old jokes? A PC dinner reservation would be announced by the maitre d’ as, “Conservatives – Party of Two.” That was back in 1993 when, after the failure of both Meech Lake and Charlottetown, along with the residual distaste of the GST implementation and the rise of the Reform Party left the once-mighty Progressive Conservatives a shell of their former selves.

So could the Liberals now be preparing for a similar serving of crow in an election that suggests that the once lightly regarded NDP has passed the once-mighty Liberal Party of Canada in the polls? Continue reading

Left-Leaners Must Decide Whether to Vote with Head or Heart

By Jason Menard, 

If you’re a left-leaning voter in this Canadian federal election, you’re faced with more than the obvious four options when you step up to the ballot box — you’ve also got to deal with an even harder question: to vote with your head or with your heart.

Oh to be a conservative voter. It would be so much easier, since you really and truly only have one choice. But for those of us who find ourselves on the left-hand side of the political spectrum, in addition to the Liberal/NDP/Green debate, you also have to whether you’re willing to engage in strategic voting. Continue reading

Cookie Cutter Constituents Don’t Exist

By Jason Menard

When will the political parties learn that cookie cutter constituents don’t exist? By overplaying to one particular sensitivity, they run the risk of offending one’s other sensibilities and losing potential votes because of their high school clique mentality.

For example, I’m dying to take the New Democratic Party seriously in this federal election. My left-o’-centre heart is looking for a champion to take a stand on the social issues that I deem important and – on the surface – the NDP looks to share many of my ideals. That is until they open their mouths and drown in rhetoric.

What spews forth isn’t political discourse – it’s nothing more than high-school put-downs and the perpetuation of naïve stereotypes.

Until the NDP’s supporters learn to tone down the propaganda, they’ll never been taken seriously by the majority of Canadian voters. Until that happens, like a despondent surfer they’ll continue to miss being able to ride the wave of discontent that the ruling Liberal Party has left in its wake.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I receive an NDP e-mail newsletter in my e-mail in-box. I could unsubscribe, but the content is just so amusing that I’m compelled to read each and every missive, right down to the “Yours in Solidarity” ending. Unfortunately, instead of being a reasoned, intellectual discourse, it more often than not reads like a high-school newspaper: filled with rah-rah stories for the home side and “My First Socialist” idealism.

For the NDP to succeed it needs to grow up and stop catering to the wannabe revolutionaries. Too many people view the NDP as a party for the financially challenged and the environmentalists. That’s great if you’re a poor tree, but the key to winning an election is having broad-spectrum appeal.

Possessing that campaign attitude is why the Liberals have been so successful over the years. No matter what you are: fiscally conservative, socially liberal, or anything in between, you’ll find something to appeal to you in their campaign literature. Call it what you want, but this one-size-fits-all platform appeals to a broad cross-section of voters – and the proof is in the results.

Contrast that with the feelings you get when you read a line that drips with sarcasm, such as “The NDP doesn’t receive the $5,000 cheques that the other two parties get from their corporate friends.” Makes you wonder how exactly is the party trying to extend its reach and appeal to a wider demographic?

The fact is, we live in a corporate society and many of us are part of the corporate machine. We want a party that’s going to be inclusionary. Canadians want to be competitive financially, yet remain socially conscious. The NDP’s brand of rhetoric echoes those high school years. You know, the cool kids would shun the Goths and geeks, who would in turn apply wide-sweeping stereotypes to the jocks and rich kids. And the cycle would go on and on!

That type of clique mentality is painful enough in high school – this is the real world of politics. It’s time to stop trying to make everyone fit into one single classification. The fact is, many of the things I believe in are far left. But when it comes to funding and fiscal resources, I lean a little to the right. Where do I fit? Am I a tree-hugging hippie, or a heartless corporate shill? Or am I a little bit of both? Aren’t we all?

We need that type of rapprochement between all the candidates. We no longer live in a world where we all support one party to the exclusion of the others, so it’s time for a Breakfast Club-esque meeting of the minds. The next debate should not be moderated by some TV talking head – we need John Hughes to script it!

Blue, red, yellow, and green – we all share more than we differ. We’re all Canadians and we’re all wanting the same thing: to make this the best country possible and to grow together sensibly, productively, and with compassion.

The party that figures it out. The party that understands that not all voters are going to drink the Kool-Aid and follow blindly with whatever their leader says has the best chance of winning. When they learn to reach out to others, instead of shunning them, their political futures will become far rosier.

It’s not enough for the NDP to paint corporate interests with the same brush. They need to accept the differences and search out the compromises. Once that common ground has been breached, then the NDP will finally be a viable alternative for many Canadians.

Until then, they’re looked at as the idealistic younger brother who needs to grow up and learn that not everything is black and white – there are shades of red, blue, green, and yellow.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

A Matador in this Political Bullfight

By Jason Menard

Olé!

That sight you’re seeing is Jack Layton’s ass – or making an ass of himself – as he ran right by El Matador Paul Martin with his bull-headed determination to separate himself from the Liberals.

But has he done so at the expense of his own party?

Martin can afford to be cavalier with his negotiations with the New Democrats because, right now, they need him more than the Liberals need the NDP. It’s a far cry from a few months ago when the Liberals needed Layton’s support to stave off an election call in the midst of questions regarding the Gomery report.

Now Martin is not just emboldened by his exoneration, but also by the fact that he knows, as well as everyone else except Layton it appears, that no one really wants to call a snap election in the winter.

Believe whatever poll you want, the fact is that a winter election will favour the incumbents. At best, we may see a small Liberal minority as frustrated lower-case conservatives and disgruntled lefties who previously threw their weight behind the NDP find their way back to the new and improved Liberals!

Despite whatever tough-talk rhetoric the Conservatives may be spouting, the fact of the matter is that they’d much rather wait for a more opportune time to take on the Liberals. Still reeling from internal squabbling, a leader that hasn’t screamed authority, and the fact that many Canadians still don’t see the Party as a viable alternative, the Conservative Party would prefer to have the extra time to build up some momentum, strengthen its foundation, and head to battle in the early Spring.

And the NDP, possibly drunk from its relative power, seems to have gone in over its head. Instead of realizing that its position of power in a minority government is as good as it’s going to get, Layton is rolling the dice that people will view his tough talk as political savvy – not political folly.

Unfortunately, such delusions of grandeur can be political suicide. Instead of using the position of privilege to insert some NDP-flavoured social reforms into the budget, the party may find itself with a lesser position after the next election. But perhaps Layton was feeling pressured to make a statement and affirm the Party’s individuality so that the long-time NDP supporters wouldn’t feel like their leadership was getting too close to the enemy.

And the Bloc? Well, they’re pretty secure in Quebec, so they don’t really care one way or the other. Thanks to the Gomery bungling of the province, it’s pretty safe to say that the hard-liners and soft separatists alike will make a beeline to the BQ whenever the polls open. For at least a campaign or two, the Liberals are persona non grata in la belle province – and both the Liberals and Bloc know it, and will factor that into their campaign focus.

So now we’re going to be privy of the most genteel display of politicking. The Conservatives and the NDP will fall all over themselves in their public politeness, “After you,” “No, after you,” “No, I insist – you make the first move to bring down the government,” “No, no – you go first…”

Neither party wants to put its neck out on the line first. Nor do they want to get too cosy to each other with their ideological opposition. And, of course, nobody wants to incur the wrath of the voters who may be forced to cut into their holiday festivities as a result of electioneering.

All the while, the Liberals will be sitting back, steeling itself for another foray into the political ring, emboldened by the knowledge that they’ve taken their opponents best blows and, while they may be reeling, they’re still on their feet and not yet ready to throw in the towel. They now can work at putting the past behind them, focussing on important key regions, like urban British Columbia (hello Asian trade initiatives). They can talk tough trade with our neighbours to the south (nothing like a little anti-Americanism to stir up the political pot). And they can prepare to come out swinging next election – the heralds calling out the dawn of a new Liberal party, despite the fact that it’s comprised of a majority of people (except a noted 10) from the old guard.

Layton made his charge and Martin deftly avoided it, daring the NDP to make the next move. The NDP, and by extension the Conservatives, can only hope that their horns aren’t stuck in the wall – and that they don’t end up the traditional way bullfights end – dead with a triumphant matador standing above them.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved