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July 03, 2004



I think you are wrong on the NDP (ie not to vote for it) despite agreeing with much of what you say.

The NDP suffer from having a union movement which is much more powerful than the party and, as is usual, the unions are inherently conservative.

The NDPers were once fascinated by the Blair project but sadly they have sort of reached 1987 in their recovery from the debacle of governing in Ontario and they are still in love with leftist rhetoric. But just as one should have voted Labour in 1983 because it was the lesser of two evils, so should one have voted for the NDP.

The NDP's reformers are still there and they will triumph - it is historically inevitable :)

Anyway, they actually did quite well - they doubled their vote, they just got screwed by the majoritarian electoral system.

Francois Brutsch

Maybe Blair said it as well, but "the era of big Government is over" was in a Clinton's State of the Union.

Alasdair Robinson


As a native Saskatchewanite who has been following the NDP at the provincial and national level for some time, allow me to make a couple of comments about the role of the NDP as a minority party in the next parliament.

The NDP has broadly embraced the environmental and anti-globalism movement of the past decade. The party has attracted the Naomi Klein's of the world. However, as you mentioned, it has also garnered the support of the trade unions, which in Canada is heavily weighted by the automotive workers. This exposes a duality in the party, since many of the environmental policies endorsed by the environmental wing are at odds with the desire to preserve jobs in the automotive sector. The friction between the two groups could be exposed if the party's platform gains more attention as a minority player in government.

It should also be noted that one aspect of the recent election was the rise of the Green Party in the Vancouver area. Nationally, the Green Party attracted 5% of the popular vote, (votes that would normally go to the NDP). However, with the "first past the post" system of elections, the Green Party failed to win a single seat in the 308 seat House.

The three main policies that the NDP campaigned on were:

1) Opposition to Canada's participation in the US missile defense system, (and by extension - opposition to the policies of the Bush Administration)

2) Support for the Kyoto Accord

3) Increased expenditures on urban development

(I'd say healthcare was a 4th, but it was part of everybody's campaign)

I would not be surprised if Paul Martin's government were to collapse as a result of the Kyoto Accord sometime in the next two years. The Liberal's endorsement of Kyoto was mainly symbolic. Jean Chretien signed the Kyoto Accord to "appear" to be environmentally friendly, but the Liberal's have no real plan of how to implement the Accord to meet the targets.

As an economist, Oliver, I am sure that you are aware of the impracticalities of the Kyoto Accord. There is no way that Canada can submit to the restrictions of Kyoto and remain competitive. (Not to mention the inter-provincial battles that will erupt if the energy rich West is required to make drastic changes to its economy to meet the national requirements). Paul Martin knows that meeting Kyoto's goals is like beating a dead horse, but the NDP are ideologically sold on Kyoto. There is not a single NDP MP who would support a Liberal policy to move away from Kyoto's goals.

Kit Taylor

Tsk Alasdiar. Calling a country competitive on the Kamm blog. :)


The NDP [...] is an interesting exception to the conventional wisdom that holds that the social democratic Left in the advanced industrial economies has steadily moved rightwards in the past quarter-century

This is because the NDP is not a serious contender for control of the National Government. To paraphrase the movie Spiderman, with no power comes no responsibility. I'm certain that if they ever win power, they will, after a short period similar to Mitterand's turn left in 1981-3, "sell out" and govern on more centrist principles.


The big mistake the Dippers made was picking Layton as leader. The general idea was that he would be able to appeal to progressive middle class voters (a demographic the NDP has always polled badly with)... however he didn't, and although the NDP picked up 6 (but notionally 7, as Comartin's seat was made Liberal by re-distribution. He won it handily though) the only two seats that weren't more than a little bit blue collar were Toronto-Danforth (Layton's seat) and Ottawa Centre (Ed Broadbent's seat).

They really should have picked Bill Blaikie as leader (had they done they could well have done better than Broadbent did in 1988).

There other mistakes were: not responding to the Conservatives Child Porn slur, Layton's idiot musings about the Clarity Act and about homeless death (all three between them cost the NDP two of their best M.P's: Lorne Nystrom and Dick Proctor, moderates both) and picking party apparatchicks in winnable ridings (which cost them at least 10 seats).

Overall, they did a lot better than they have for ages (those freak Atlantic-97 gains don't count) and Layton is a better leader than "McDoughnut", but not as well as they would have had Blaikie been leader.
The loony left influence is slowly ebbing away (in the most recent NDP leadership election, no nutcase candidate got into the top three. Compare to 1995 when Robinson topped the first ballot), and they are back to where they were at the beginning of the '80's.
Moderation either takes a long time in opposition or a short spell in government.


That should read: six seats in Ontario

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