25 September 2009: two more reasons why the NDP doesn't want an election

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Here are two pieces of news on why the NDP won't be interested in bringing about an election anytime soon, which would effectively keep the Conservatives in power without having to worry about getting the support of either the Bloc or the Liberals.

#1 is simple: the latest poll shows the Conservatives now up to 37% compared to 29.9% for the Liberals. The NDP has gone down to 13.8% from 16% in the last poll.

#2 is this: Martin Cauchon has had his way and he will be able to run in Outremont in the next election. Martin Cauchon is the former Liberal justice minister and is a veteran politician, but he retired in 2004 and is now seeking a return to politics. In the meantime the NDP has managed to win the seat with Thomas Mulcair (once in a byelection and again in 2008), making it their Quebec stronghold. During the last election Mulcair won by a 5.5% margin against the Liberal challenger, which isn't all that safe a margin if he were to run against a powerhouse like Cauchon. Their best bet against Cauchon is to portray him as now being out of touch, only interested in power etc. and the longer Mulcair gets to spend serving the riding the more they'll be able to make the case that he is now their natural MP. So far he's been there for two years and eight months.

The problem with Canadian democracy though is that parties are always being pushed to conflict with one another. Bills are often tabled as confidence motions, making voting for a certain bill a very uncomfortable act for opposition parties, which then use this to make the argument that they have sold out their principles. The NDP used to make fun of the Liberals for voting with the Conservatives, now the Liberals are doing the same to them. If the NDP goes up in support and the Liberals don't then it'll be the Liberals' turn again to avoid an election and the NDP will go after them for that, and on and on. That means that for a party leader like Layton (and Ignatieff too of course) each vote is always a choice between two undesirable outcomes: supporting the government and looking like an ineffective leader / sellout, or voting against the government and possibly forcing an election. The only slightly comfortable position comes when one opposition party votes for the government and the others get to heap abuse on them. Hardly an ideal situation for anyone except the Conservatives who seem to enjoy it.

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