Friday, April 01, 2016

The NDP Review: Why I Believe Tom Mulcair Should Go

I haven't written anything about the NDP leadership review, because I know some of my NDP friends are still hurting from their disastrous election result. And I didn't want to re-open any wounds.

And also because I think Justin Trudeau is the best prime minister I have ever known, so it's not that I'm unhappy at the way that election worked out.

But I did vote for the NDP, I care about the future of that party.

So I think it's time to list some reasons why I think Tom Mulcair should go.

(1) He has taken the NDP to its lowest level of support in thirteen years. 

Little more than a week before NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is set to face his party in a leadership review, a new Ekos poll shows the New Democrats are polling at their lowest level in more than a decade. 

The poll, conducted by Ekos for iPolitics, shows the NDP is standing at 11.7 per cent support among Canadians – down eight percentage points since last October’s election.

Which should speak for itself, and tell NDP members that something is terribly wrong.

(2) He ran the worst campaign I have ever seen.

The New Democratic Party’s “Stop Harper” focus in the 2015 election campaign and the lack of a strong, simple narrative that distinguished it from the Liberals as change agents of choice has left the party vulnerable, an internal party post-mortem has concluded.

“The lack of a strong, simple narrative made it difficult to communicate our platform and positions, and as a result it became difficult for Canadians to distinguish us from the Liberals. We failed to represent the kind of change that Canadians desired. Instead, our campaign presented a choice for cautious change.”

For while it's true that he did take a massive hit for standing up for the right of a woman to wear a niqab, and for that he deserves enormous credit. 

He took the party to the right of the Liberals, and deliberately made the NDP's campaign as boring as possible. He made absolutely no attempt to reach out to young Canadians. 

Despite the party's claim to have a "Stop Harper" focus, Mulcair spent more time attacking Justin Trudeau than he did attacking that depraved dictator.

Which only made it look like he was working with the Cons, or was just out of it. And certainly not an agent of change. Even though change was what most Canadians desperately wanted.

And that helped decimate his party and cost it some of its best MPs, including some who were the future of the NDP.

And any post-mortem that doesn't mention Mulcair's role in that debacle.

The analysis, which doesn’t mention NDP Leader Tom Mulcair by name, comes a week ahead of a party convention in Edmonton at which he will face a leadership review.

Is in my humble opinion, not worth the paper it's written on.

(3) This is absolutely pathetic.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair condemned Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump as a "fascist" and criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not denouncing the billionaire business mogul.

When Trudeau has made it abundantly clear how he feels about Donald Trump's politics of division. It's not the role of a Canadian Prime Minister to intervene more directly in an American election.

And judging by the looks on the faces of those listening to him attack Trudeau...

They were as impressed by Mulcair as I was.

Now at this point I need to say that I thought Tom did an excellent job as leader of the opposition, by grilling Stephen Harper like a prosecutor would...

And treating that monster like the criminal he was...

For which I, and I'm sure many other Canadians, will be eternally grateful. For it did help bring him down, and did cheer us up during the darkest days of the Con regime.

But by continuing to attack Justin Trudeau as if he was the same or worse than Harper he is missing the mark. For Justin is both a much nicer person, and a far better leader.

And the way Mulcair screws up his face with contempt when he goes after Trudeau couldn't be more ugly or disgusting...

And is only making the NDP look like a party of bitter losers drowning in their own bile.

When the NDP has a valuable role to play in the political life of this country, and should be a party of exciting new progressive ideas that can appeal and inspire a new generation of Canadians as Justin Trudeau is doing.

And help us all to push for real change.

Which it will NEVER be able to do as long as Tom Mulcair is its leader.

You know, I hate to be so harsh on a member of our progressive family, which as anyone who reads this blog knows is something I never do.

But the NDP deserves better, and for the sake of its future.

The time has come, when Mulcair should go...

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  1. e.a.f.12:33 AM

    I respectfully disagree. He remained principled on the issues of the hijab and nijab.

    At this time the party doesn't have anyone better and he is the brand.

    now the last time the party decided it could change "brands" Broadbent was leader and we know how that turned out. The party wandered in the wilderness for years. They ran two women leaders and no improvement. In fact to the best of my recollection things got worse for the party. things didn't improve until Jack Layton came onto the scene.

    If we "broom" Mulcair, we will wander in the wilderness for years. The party doesn't have a replacement and it is better to find one and groom one before we go down this road of "renewal".

    Having watched the party and voted for it since the days of Tommy Douglas, I'm a tad hesitant to go down this road. I'd wait until Notley is interested in the leadership or some one of her stature.

    1. hi e.a.f...I welcome all opinions, and this is just my opinion not a Papal Bull. It's Simon's Bull and unlike the Pope I don't claim to be infallible. So the more the merrier.
      As I mentioned in my post Mulcair does have his strong points. He was a fiery opposition leader who grilled Harper like I would, ugly side up. And the way he stood up for principle during the manufactured niqab controversy was exemplary.
      But the election of Justin Trudeau has ushered in a new generation, he is taking the country in a leftward direction, and he has the ability to inspire people that Tom does not have, and in my opinion never will.
      People are looking to be sold a brighter more hopeful vision. But I'm afraid the only thing Mulcair could sell me would be a coffin.Maybe.
      The NDP needs a generational change at the top, or an older leader like Bernie Sanders to renew itself, and give it a kick in the ass in the general direction of the left, not the uneasy middle. Or it will become irrelevant. And I simply can't believe that Mulcair is the only person who can run the NDP. Because if that's true, they're doomed. But then as I said, that just my opinion, and the more the merrier...

    2. Anonymous5:56 AM

      mulcair has shown on many, many occasions that he just wasn't ready...
      Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory takes special talent and while he's leading the NDP, we will wander down the great highway of oblivion through the endless wilderness (AGAIN)until we get the balls to kick him to the curb and get a real leader instead of another horwath right-of-center loser clone. In all 35,000,000 of us, there has to be someone not tied to corporate interests the way he is who actually wants Canada to be Canada again and not some sick little delusionary imitation of the amerikon empire.
      Your love affair with Trudeau is heading for an iceberg, Simon. He's starting to show his real colours now with the way the liberocons are legislating/procrastinating/obfuscating in Parliament. Not as egregious as the neo-fascist cons...yet...but definitely headed in the same direction. Another o-bomb-a in the making, methinks...

    3. Anonymous10:03 AM

      Mulcair was the "brand change" and that brand failed. The wilderness years started after the election that brought the Liberals back. What you fear has already happened.

  2. Anonymous5:09 AM

    What stands out most for me was once the campaigning began, Mulcair inexplicably lost that fiery edge that was most enjoyable to watch as he hammered Harper in the HoC. He turned into Valium Tom, oozing a laid back niceness that made me wonder who is this guy?
    Had he carried the same fire and conviction in the debates and throughout his campaign, we would have seen a much different result, probably a minority lib. or ndp. In light of his disastrous campaign, he does need to step aside.
    Like you, I much prefer what we got instead Simon, a stable majority. PMJT has exceeded expectations and I expect that to continue as he continues to obliterate the foul legacy of Harper's reign.

    1. Hi JD....I don't know why Mulcair suddenly lost his edge in the campaign, or who exactly was to blame. I guess it was like a hockey team that's leading by two goals in the second period, and decides to protect that lead instead of scoring more. That almost never works, and after the other team ties the score it's very hard to get going again. Also what worked in Question Period didn't work in the campaign where Trudeau's sunny optimism made him look like the real agent of change, and Mulcair's darker persona only made him look like more of the same...

  3. As I understand it, the NDP election platform was quite good. Quite progressive. Much better than that of the Liberals. (I don't read those things that closely. I'm relying on the detailed analyses of lefty friends of mine. Liberal and NDP platforms tend not to be closely adhered to once they win power.)

    But I never liked Mulcair. I think he should go because he led the party to the greatest debacle in its history. Even if I had liked him, I would think he should step aside and allow a fresh face to represent the party.

    He's a right-wing NDP'r and, to me, he showed that he didn't understand the political-economic reality of the present. He represented an NDP lacking belief in its own supposed principles. That's the impression he made to me.

    That said; I have to protest against the constant refrain that Mulcair alone was responsible for not making harper the primary target. It wasn't Mulcair who consistently refused to coalesce against the harpercons - vowing never to do so. That was Trudeau.

    If the harpercons had squeezed out a minority; what would we have seen?

    At present though, unlike you, I find the whole political scene depressing. The Liberals are better than the harpercons. But that's a low bar.

    1. Hi thwap...while it's true that the NDP had some progressive policies that outmatched the Liberals, their decision to go for a balanced budget blew everything else out of the water, and made Mulcair look more like Harper, and Trudeau look more like the real agent of change, which was fundamentally what most Canadians were looking for...

  4. Hi Simon, while I agree that Mulcair should go, I don't necessarily agree with your reasons. First of all, it seems to be an exaggeration to say that Mulcair took the party to the right of the Liberals. I think national childcare and national pharmacare by themselves are two policies that suggest that the NDP continued to stay to the left of the Liberals. Now, that being said, I do think that the NDP is far too right and should swing further to the left (at the very least it should be advocating a national grant program to make post-secondary education free to all and should be advocating a basic income policy of some sort). So it is a somewhat academic argument where Mulcair stands vis a vis the Liberal Party, but it is clear to me that the party is far too rightwing and that certainly won't change if Mulcair stays as leader. I also think it is something of an exaggeration to say that Mulcair ran the worst campaign. It wasn't good by any means but it wasn't that bad. And I could forgive a poorly ran campaign if I agreed more with the policies that the NDP was willing to pursue. The 'Trump is a Fascist' issue just seems to be something of a sideshow. I have no problem with someone calling out Trump but it is silly to make an issue out of Trudeau's reluctance to do so. There are significant policy reasons to criticize Trudeau and the Liberal Party, his vocalizations (or lack of them) regarding Trump seems superfluous.

    With all that said (sorry it was a bit long), I really think Mulcair should go for the simple reasons that he's not a good man, and is just too far rightwing, both in style and content. Mulcair's attack on anyone who supports the Palestinian cause is reason enough for me to call for his ouster. To me the Palestinian issue is a litmus test of how someone really supports principles of liberty and justice, and Mulcair fails utterly on that score. He has also demonstrated that he is, at a personal level, Machiavellian and if the Harper years have taught us anything it is that we need to jettison this type of politics. And since there are significantly better potential leaders in the NDP in regard to this issue, Mulcair needs to make way for better people who fit the real needs of a modern, leftwing party.

    1. Hi I told thwap, the NDP might have had some more progressive policies, but by going for a balanced budget they only sounded like the Cons who had been beating that drum forever. By doing that and by trying to make it look that they were a bunch of sober accountants, they made their campaign look boring by comparison, and don't forget how badly Mulcair looked in the debates, where Justin Trudeau went after Harper aggressively, while Mulcair seemed more interested in attacking Justin which was not what most progressives wanted him to do. As for not calling Trump a fascist, I really don't think a prime minister can do that, as tempting as it might be. It would look like Trudeau was interfering in the the affairs of another nation, and that's just not done. Finally there is the generational issue that many Canadians seem to ignore. I haven't seen a breakdown of all those first time voters who prevented the Cons from getting a minority, but I'm pretty sure that Trudeau was responsible for getting most of them to the polls. But I do agree with you that Mulcair is too right wing, and if the NDP is to even hope of matching Trudeau they are going to need somebody who can inspire people, and Tom is not the one...

    2. Yes, I am in accord for the most part with all you said there. Good to talk to you Simon.

  5. Anonymous11:04 AM

    I've never supported the NDP, and have always voted Liberal. This last election campaign made me consider voting NDP to get CPC out. I have a great amount of respect for Mulcair. He works very hard and does not loose sight of his principles. However, I did not like the way he bought into anti-Trudeau (he's just not ready) attitude during the campaign. It was too rabid for my liking. Since Trudeau won, I'm not interested in Mulcair and the NDP.

    However, I think the party needs to move on. Mulcair seemed more of a stop gap after Layton died. Maybe he can help the party, much like Rae did for Liberals, transition to the next phase. In reality, would Layton be in a different situation if he were still alive?


    1. Hi TS...i had a very hard choice in my riding, where the Cons were not a factor. And the only reason I voted for the NDP was because I thought that we were going to have a minority government and because the NDP candidate was a woman. However as you know, I am extremely happy with the way things turned out, and think that Justin is so far at least a great prime minister. My friends and I can relate to him more than we ever could to somebody like Mulcair....

  6. Jack Layton and Mulclair sold their souls for power, thats the truth.

    1. Hi Steve...I've seen quite a few articles claiming that Jack Layton started the party down the road to electoral opportunism. And from a strictly technical pint of view that might be true, But Jack had the warmth and the ability to inspire people with the kind of sunny politics Justin Trudeau now practices, so who knows where he might have taken the NDP if he hadn't died so tragically. But then I'm biased, I knew the man and I loved his joyful spirit....

    2. Anonymous10:41 AM

      I had no idea that you knew Layton. I will remember your impression of him as warm and joyful Simon. I always had the impression that he would not have whole heartedly approved of Mulcair.

  7. I absolutely agree with the 'Mulcair Must Go' statement made in March by the two NDP student groups from Concordia and McGill.-- "While Mulcair is a respected politician, we do not feel he shares our values as social democrats. His long career in the Quebec Liberal Party leaves him disconnected from the social movements, unions, and student movements that have traditionally been the lifeblood of the NDP." For me, that says it all. Will he survive his leadership review vote? Non. Il est fait.

    1. Hi Omar...yes the McGill/Concordia position is my own. Mulcair turned out to be too right wing for me. There was a time when I thought he was our best hope of getting rid of the Cons. But his constant attack on Trudeau, especially during the last part of the campaign really turned me off. But as for whether the NDP will have the guts to ask him to leave I'm not as confident as you are. The experience of some of my NDP friends suggests the party is quite old fashioned, not interested in the new generation, so I wouldn't be surprised if they ignored the desire for change and settled for the status quo....

    2. I think you're probably correct in thinking he'll survive the leadership review. Wishful thinking on my part. But you never know, in the long run he's done anyway, so perhaps over the weekend clear-minded thinking will win the day! One can only hope.

  8. Anonymous9:49 PM

    I became a big Tom fan when the NDP led the filibuster for the Postal Workers and the way he took on Harper in the HOC. I liked Angry Tom. I was angry too. So was most of the Country except for the brain dead Con base. I think Angry Tom could have won. The more they attack the Liberals and the Best Prime Minister Ever the more respect I lose. Now we see why Justin said no to a coalition. Pamela. Sunny Ways Simon.

    1. Hi I said in my post I greatly admired the way Mulcair at racked Harper in the Commons. He did reflect the anger of Canadians. But in the campaign he seemed to forget that anger alone would not work, and that he had to offer Canadians hope and optimism in a better future, and in that regard he was a miserable failure....