The Tyee's Murray Dobbins says the New Dems are heading in the wrong direction and only the Libs and Tories will benefit from it. Dobbins says Mulcair has it all wrong.
A couple of polls showing
the federal NDP losing support to the Liberals pose some pretty
fundamental questions for the party and its small 'l' liberal leader
Thomas Mulcair. Does the party follow the narrow political path of the
two big business parties or does it reinvent itself as a movement party
and tap into the deep dissatisfaction of Canadians about the state of
politics and governance in this country?
...Thomas Mulcair and the NDP decided ...to listen to the polls
showing the Liberals (read Justin "He doesn't really want the job"
Trudeau) gaining ground at their expense. The result? A complete about-face
on so-called "free trade" deals. Instead of highlighting three
incredibly destructive investment agreements currently in the news they
panicked -- ending their commitment to get out of NAFTA, calling on the
WTO to re-launch global trade talks and urging Harper to sign deals with
India, Brazil and South Africa.
Here was a chance for the NDP to stake out
ground that distinguished them from all other parties. Mulcair (who
unfortunately does support "free trade") could have used these deals
(FIPA, CETA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership) to lambast their
potential destructive impact on the country and argue against more such
agreements. None of them have anything to do with trade -- they are all
about corporate rights, just like NAFTA and the WTO.
...That Mulcair would back off the NDP's historic position on these odious
corporate rights deals demonstrates how vulnerable the party is to
feeling obliged to move in the direction of being a second Liberal
Party. Ironically, it is their historic 100 plus seats that has made
them more cautious (reminiscent of their increased caution in 1988 when
they were running second in the polls). But the more they back off from
who they are, the more people will go to the real thing. And it's not
mostly about policies, it's mostly about trust. Harper has managed to
create a new political and government culture in which the default
position of most citizens is distrust. If Mulcair wants Canadians to
trust the NDP he has to take the party forward and not backward.
...The NDP's future success depends on increasing people's expectations of what is possible -- not further decreasing them.
Dobbins has nailed it on Mulcair's balding head. Just as Ignatieff dragged the Liberals to a place where there was nothing for them, so too is Mulcair, even if he is carrying on Jack Layton's plan. This obsessively centrist political compression is toxic for the New Democrats. If Canadians want a liberal party, as Dobbins puts it, they'll go for the real thing, not the Layton/Mulcair Latter Day Liberals.