05 March 2012

NDP Leadership Race: New member weighs options

Signed up for membership in the NDP a couple of weeks before the voting deadline for the party's leadership. Was my first time ever being a member of that party.

People who have read my previous writing will know of my membership flirtations with the BC Liberals (to select Campbell's successor; my guy lost unfortunately); and with the federal and provincial Greens - which are two separate entities, unlike the NDP's federal and provincial wings.* With the NDP, signing up for one signs you up for both, something I don't like and would like to see changed.

At any rate, been watching the NDP debates with interest; reading the candidate websites and any literature they've sent to me; (trying) to communicate via email or Twitter to get answers to questions I deem pressing; and monitoring candidates' activities as reported by traditional and non-traditional media.

Am planning to vote online during the convention. However, although I remain undecided, I am leaning more and more toward Nathan Cullen and Brian Topp for my top two choices - in no particular order as yet. Third choice is up in the air.

Among the more pressing issues for me has been concern about keeping Quebec happy. However, the arguments I've heard with respect to that, usually touted by Mulcair supporters and also Topp's, don't hold water.

By those arguments, members should assume that Quebec's over-representation in the NDP caucus isn't enough, that the party must ALSO have a leader who represents a Quebec riding or has close ties to it.

But the NDP already represents Quebec more than it does the rest of the country. Of its 102 MPs, 59 are from Quebec. That leaves 43 MPs for the entire remainder of Canada's regions.

Shouldn't it be enough that the next leader can communicate in French with a fair amount of fluency?

The importance of keeping the rest of the country happy should not be overlooked. Serious consideration should be given to how a leader selected only to appease Quebec (i.e., someone who would likely NOT have been chosen had Quebec appeasement not been the prime concern) would be received by the people living outside of it.

Quebec aside, my top issue remains democratic reform, including electoral reform. Most candidates have stated support for ER and made that explicit in their literature and on their websites. Thomas Mulcair, or his campaign, continues to evade answering my question about his position on ER and there's still no mention of it in his campaign material. I find that worrisome, even though ER has been part of NDP platforms in recent elections. I fear Mulcair would relegate the issue to the bargain basement, not least because Quebec has expressed disfavour with ER, specifically proportional representation, in the past. (Time and again FPTP gave the Bloc more MPs than the popular vote warranted.)

*In the event someone has a hairy conniption... YES my memberships with those other parties have long ceased to be.

UPDATE Mar 5, 11:58am: Just listened to Nathan Cullen's interview today with Anna Marie Tremonti, of The Current. The man continues to impress me. Same with this March 1 interview with Evan Solomon.

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