Photo by Matt Jiggins – Source – Wikipedia.
Thomas Mulcair’s entry into the Federal NDP leadership race will unfurl an epic battle of proportions not seen since the Reform-Progressive Conservative split in the 1990’s. If you lean to the right politically, grab your popcorn bought with the Harper Beer-and-Popcorn fund, put your feet up and prepare for some of the best TV this season.
Don’t believe me, look at the endorsements. A few token “non-Quebec” dippers such as the NDP leader of New Brunswick (who?) and Lorne Nystrom, but the rest are Quebec NDP MP’s. Not all of the Quebec Caucus, just enough to make Brian Topp’s campaign tricky.
But it would just get tricky, it will get down right ugly. If you prescribe to the theory of “Operation Chaos” to have the left succumb to political infighting for the next 5-7 years, Mulcair is the horse you want to back. From far-out conspiracy theories about wither Osama bin Ladin is actually dead to some of the extreme left eco-nut policies out there, Mulcair has it all.
Mulcair’s candidacy will polarize the NDP:
- By splitting the Quebec Caucus, a membership drive between Topp and Mulcair in Quebec will further cement the NDP as being a Quebec first party, which is the last thing either candidate wants.
- It will become bitter because Mulcair is perceived outside of Quebec as being a whiny person, who complains as soon as the rules aren’t in his favour. Mulcair is the outsider and from the looks of the endorsements that Brian Topp has garnered, I suspect Topp is a bit more than pissed that he just didn’t get the keys to the leadership by acclimation. Those two don’t appear to be friends, and that battle will further alienate the NDP from being the mainstream heir to the political left of the country.
- Should Mulcair lose, he will argue number two and probably take his toys and go home. Either by choosing not to run again as he did when he was offered a cabinet demotion in the Charest government; or by altogether quitting the NDP and starting his own Leftist Movement in Quebec. A federalist version of the BQ.
Anyone of, or all three of these combined will damage the left. Or even better, Mulcair wins. Imagine the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition standing before the House of Commons spluttering that bin Ladin is alive.
Federal Liberals must be salivating at this battle too. They’ve already lost one possible leadership candidate in Justin Trudeau, who’s poo-poo’d the idea of the tainted Liberal mantel in 2013. But now, with the possibility of the far left getting into a protracted leadership battle, there is a chance for the Federal Liberals to reposition themselves as the sane political choice if you lean to the left. Don’t forget, Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty is one prospective leadership candidate for the Liberals who would benefit and dearly love the NDP to be in shambles.
Lastly, one big factor in all of this is the never-ending fishbowl of the 24/7 news cycle to have this battle in. When the Reform/PC split occurred, the Internet was but a gleam in Al Gore’s eye; there was no Twitter or Facebook. News stories broke but unless you picked up a newspaper or tuned into Lloyd Robertson at 11pm, you didn’t hear about it. When you did, it was distilled. Not now. Mistyped words on a Twitter-post could sink a campaign. A Facebook campaign about some picayune issue will help drive the issue(s) of the campaign.
The campaign will be a microcosm of politic. A war. A very divisive and nasty war in which the winner will not be the NDP but Stephen Harper, for a divided left ensures his party will stay in power.
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!