Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Quiet NDP Leadership Contest

In about two months, on March 24th, Canada will have a new Leader of the Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (CPC – Calgary Southwest, AB) will know his sparring partner and chief rival for the foreseeable future. The new Leader of the Opposition is also most likely to be our next Prime Minister, if Mr. Harper loses in the next election. Simple patterns of politics may suggest that when the Conservatives seek a second majority Harper, who will have been Prime Minister for ten years, may exceed Canada’s tolerance and switch to a new party. This is in no way guaranteed, just look at the Liberal reign between 1993 and 2006.

Despite the importance, the selection of the next NDP leader has received shockingly little attention. This “lack of interest” of the media is all the more baffling when contrasted to the American (and Canadian) attention being heaped upon the Republican Presidential nomination. Virtually every day CBC Newsworld has a filler piece on the Republican contest, and it often makes an appearance on the National. Comparatively, the New Democrats’ battling for the nomination struggle to receive any airtime at all.

There have been two sanctioned debates hosted by the party, both of these have been broadcast on CPAC, and the first one on CBC Newsworld. Other debates hosted by third party groups – usually riding associations – have been only available online. Virtually every story I have read about the NDP since December has concentrated on broad pieces profiling the candidates, or discussing polls and public opinion with the leadership race as a backdrop. Perhaps I am falling victim to my own criticism though, I am writing this piece and not fundamentally advancing the discussion about who should be the next Dipper leader – at least so far. That being said, I am no journalist and do not get paid to cover politics in this country.

I have heard it said that journalists are finding it difficult to cover the NDP, most of the contacts they have are proving ineffective and they need to build new in-roads. On the other hand media folk have rolodexes (I wish people still used those) full of contacts in the Liberal Party. This may explain the wash of articles on the Liberals purported “bounce” in the polls and the backroom machinations for the upcoming leadership race. I have not conducted a survey, but I wonder if there has been more written on the Liberal leadership race in recent weeks than the NDP one, the former is months away, and latter weeks.

Last Sunday’s debate in Halifax helped shape my view of the race. Much of the criticism is that most of the candidates are in “violent agreement” with one another, an expression coined by Nathan Cullen (NDP – Skeena-Bulkley Valley, BC). There are not the same fiery disagreements and infighting we see in the American contest to the south. I disagree, as the convention approaches real divisions are emerging and contrasts. Where there’s no smoke, there’s no media. But as an undecided voter the media apathy in this regard is troubling. Following information directly from the eight NDP candidates is very limiting.

As we get closer to the convention I will post a breakdown on my thoughts on the candidates and why I may or may not support him or her as leader. In the coming weeks I also want to post on Bill C-11, and the return of the House of Commons. So much to do, so little time.

All that aside I have decided to attend the party’s convention in March. I probably would be content to sit at home and vote online, watching on TV, but events like these do not come along very often, and rarely in my own backyard.

No comments: