Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Intro: NDP Leader's Race

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts I am a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party. As a member of the ONDP I am by default a member of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada. On this blog I have talked about my shifting voting patterns, and my sympathies for ideas on both the left and right. I voted NDP in May 2011, and I was very pleased with the breakthrough of the NDP, but I more often disagree with them than their provincial cousins.

However, ever since I turned 18 I have participated in every election I could. There is also something attractive in selecting the next Leader of the Opposition and shaping the NDP more into the party I want it to be. First, let’s give a rundown of the candidates (alphabetically):

Niki Ashton – MP for Churchill, MB. The youngest potential leader. She is campaigning on a platform called “New Politics,” which she hopes to change the way government and democracy works in Canada. http://www.nikiashton.ca/

Robert Chisholm – MP for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, NS. He is the former Leader of the Opposition in Nova Scotia. He is largely basing his campaign on his experience as a tested leader.

Nathan Cullen – MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, BC. Most experienced MP in the race, elected in 2004. He has help multiple shadow cabinet posts in the NDP. He is noteworthy for his call on cooperation between the Liberal, NDP and Green Parties in the next election to help unite the progressive vote.

Paul Dewar – MP for Ottawa Centre, ON. He has been highly active on foreign affairs issues since arriving in Ottawa. He has strong ties to the grassroots of the party in Ontario and Manitoba.

Thomas Mulcair – MP for Outremont, QC.  The candidate with the most experience in government as a former cabinet minister in Quebec. He was Jack Layton’s Quebec Lieutenant and Deputy Leader.

Peggy Nash – MP for Parkdale-High Park, ON. Prominent union leader and long-term finance critique in the NDP shadow cabinet. Nash is strong on economic issues and emphasizes growth and social justice.

Romeo Saganash – MP for Abiti-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou. Prominent Cree leader from Quebec, as Deputy Grand Chief of the Council of the Crees. His campaign has been focused on economic justice (particularly amongst Aboriginal Canadians) and environmental issues to date.

Martin Singh – Pharmacist from Nova Scotia. NDP activist and small businessman.

Brian Topp – Former President of the NDP. Former union leader and Chief of Staff to Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow. Topp is credited in part with the winning strategies implemented by Jack Layton.

I will not bother sharing any polling because there is not any fresh data out there. Generally, Brian Topp is thought to be in the lead. Paul Dewar, Thomas Mulcair and Peggy Nash are somewhere behind him. Nathan Cullen, Robert Chisholm, and Niki Ashton make up the third tier, leaving the remaining candidates with low single-digit support.

The NDP have a number of debates planned. You can read about the strategy here. It’s interesting to contrast the Republican race in the United States to the NDP race. There is not a lot of data to go on yet, but I found it interesting to be agreeing with the folks I was watching debate for once, generally.

Truth be told I have a favourite. I am slightly biased towards Romeo Saganash. I find his biography compelling. I am not totally sold. I want to see him do well in a debate, after he recovers from his bronchitis. You can find the debate here.Sadly, I’m not bilingual, so I rely upon the media to inform me of the relative performance of candidates.

I will be following the debates, the next one is in January, and I may be attending the convention in March. If there are some specific aspects you would like me to focus on I would be happy to give my coverage a specific bend.

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