NDP begins its long decline

Brian Jones
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The federal NDP will implode, of course. It is merely a matter of time. The only unknown is whether its self-destruction will occur because of a single major issue or many small ones.

But for now, the New Democratic Party can bask in victorious glory, having vanquished both the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois to become, for the first time, the official Opposition.

It is truly a new dawn, a new day, a new dream and a whole new way for a left-wing downfall.

The ballots were barely tabulated before some pundits began pointing out the youth and inexperience of an entire school busload of newly elected NDP MPs. Some are still in university. One, a teenager, is the youngest MP in Canadian history. Surely, gaffes and embarrassments will ensue.

Not to worry. If Canadians in general weren’t ashamed to have once elected a guy like Stockwell Day — who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old — they shouldn’t be too impatient with or judgmental of the NDP’s McParliamentarians.


Changing colour

The most apparent threat to the NDP’s new status is, ironically, its 57-seat improvement over its former single seat in Quebec. Voters there are the most fickle in the country. In a single generation, they have gone en masse from Liberal red to Tory blue to Bloc bleu-blanc-et-rouge to NDP pinko.

In 2015, those 58 seats could evaporate like steam rising from a hot café latte.

If the party wants to aim higher, it could try to have all 102 of its seats obliterated by continuing its irritating habit of telling Canadians that taxes are a good thing.

Advice for NDP Leader Jack Layton: wrong. Taxes are a necessary evil. Don’t let the Tories be the only party that feigns sympathy with overly burdened Canadian taxpayers.

Fortunately for the NDP, Canadians don’t give a hooey about foreign policy. Canada is involved in Libya’s ugly civil war, but that irrational intervention was seldom discussed during the election campaign.

This widespread disinterest in anything beyond Canada’s borders will suit the NDP. After all, if

debate arises about, say, Middle East policy, left-wing anti-Semites will inevitably start spouting off. They’re easy to spot. They’re the ones who defensively proclaim, “We don’t hate Jews. We just hate Israel.”

The NDP’s first test came quickly. News reports this week said the party has about 300 staff jobs available.

Predictably, assorted unions have recommended their own staffers fill those vacant positions.

Acceding to those suggestions would be Layton’s first big mistake.

If the NDP wants to be the official Opposition beyond 2015, it must snuff out its reputation for being influenced by unions, especially public-sector unions.

The average Canadian doesn’t want to hear about how tough life is for public-sector workers, what with their higher-than-average salaries, health benefits and pensions.

The union movement continues to ignore the growing divide between public-sector employees and their private-sector counterparts, but that doesn’t mean the NDP has to.

There has been plentiful discussion about aging baby boomers and the stress they will put on the health care system. Less discussed is baby boomers’ post-retirement status: some will be paupers, some will just get by and others will live regally merely because they had a government job.

The Tories’ strident ideology

will make them drift hard to the right. The NDP should — but

probably won’t — plant its orange flag and lay claim to the centre of the political spectrum, thereby

cutting off the oxygen supply to a gasping Liberal party and becoming the sole alternative to Stephen Harper’s soon-to-be-hated Conservatives.

Devout NDPers know all this. It’s what they’re going to argue about for the next four years. They are probably already arguing about it.


Brian Jones is a desk editor and union member at The Telegram.

He can be reached by email at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: New Democratic Party, Bloc Quebecois, The Telegram

Geographic location: Canada, Quebec, Libya Middle East Israel

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Recent comments

  • Eugene Leger
    May 14, 2011 - 10:57

    Have we decided to end comments? Maybe too much of a tongue lashing? I've taken the time to repost, more time than you took ensuring that the grey matter was in gear before engaging the pen, no? Sir, Marcus Aurelius said something along the lines of, "Treat with respect the capacity you have to form an opinion" and goes on to explain why one should. P'raps Mr. Jones should have a read thereof, no? I like the way you've pulled a Fenwick, a la Peter, out of your hat, but, alas, you weren't exactly a Fenwick in the beginning were you? Pulling the anti-Israel/anti-semite (sic) schtick must mean that this space is vying for the in-house "pro CPC" opion holder. P'raps the rag came off a little too anti-CPC during the smellection (it stank)? Is this "balancing act ordered from home office and are your opinions piped in now from Montreal? Or p'raps this is just a picture of quality control at the people's paper, this from today's editorial online: "They includes fresh observations solicited since the strike finally ended in January." Oops Maybe I should ramble some more, but no, then I would expect to get paid for writing a column.

  • blaine
    May 13, 2011 - 21:15

    canadians are such a stupid people; they really are. the NDP will take from you and me and give to the public sector union thug, to entrenched special interests, and to an over-weening bureaucracy. Jack layton, who has lived his entire life suckling at the teat of the canadian tax payer, will gleefuly go about living in subsidized government housing - just like he did when he was living in toronto as a city councillor - and will piggishly indulge himself on an enormous government pension. He'll raise your taxes, find ways to evade them himself, and laugh at you all the way to the bank. Women will still love Jack, though, until they discover that they have to pay those elevated taxes, as well, not just their ex-husbands. Oh Jack, you shyster you.

  • Chris
    May 13, 2011 - 19:50

    Wouldn't a more appropriate title for the article be " I hate the NDP and I don't think a columnist should have any responsibility to back up my angry rants with a hint of evidence, reason or rationale?"

  • rip ley
    May 13, 2011 - 10:17

    very weak article with little to sustain it.

  • Mark Spark
    May 13, 2011 - 10:15

    I'd have to agree Brian...but I could sum up this article in just a few words: the best way to make the NDP go away is to elect them once.

    • J. RIDDEN
      May 13, 2011 - 10:55

      Unfortunately, Brian shows bias and a degree of ignorance in his comments. he presents absolutely no proof of the decline of the NDP. Was he able to predict the demise of the BLOC? He writes Red, Blue..etc, why 'PINKO?' why not just PINK?....this shows a child like view. Just report the facts, Brian, your readers will decide if you are correct or not.....in this case the position you have promoted is easily seen, and detracts from clear thinking...

    • Sun Flower
      May 13, 2011 - 11:15

      I am optimistic about the future of our political system and the new role of NDP, because now our parliament is better represented with a wider spectrum of age and gender. Disregard the color they belong to, I strongly believe they will work together to make this country prosperous.

  • james
    May 13, 2011 - 10:15

    ndp have already hired union people to fill positions ,

  • Greg
    May 13, 2011 - 10:09

    Brian stop watching Fox News on satellite and go outside for a walk.

  • Lola
    May 13, 2011 - 09:59

    So basically, every political party is stupid, and Canadians are fickle? That is the only coherent thread I could pull out of this mess. Also, to the person who said that believing in a 6000 year old Earth is democracy, you are everything that is wrong with our country.

    • ck
      May 13, 2011 - 10:56

      Lola, many Canadians are fickle, indeed. More specifically, Quebeckers tend to be most fickle. Look at our National Assembly history. Since Maurice Duplessis and his Union Nationale, we've never kept a government in office more than 2 terms, except for the most recent one of Jean Charest, and he's clearly overstayed his welcome for most here. Feds do tend to last somewhat longer, but the only protest vote, provincially or federally, to have lasted was that of the Bloc Quebecois. The ADQ sure didn't. I do see a future reenactment of what happened to Mulroney's Tories in the late 80s, where the NDPs of the west will clash with the Quebec caucus in a serious way, as the western constituency's needs and aspirations are never compattible with those of Quebec's. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Adam Richards
    May 13, 2011 - 09:57

    Cynicism is the last refuge of the unimaginative. This writer obviously hates the NDP, and is desperately trying to put his hatred on some sort of journalistic grounding. He reminds me of the blowhards who sit on panels before football games deciding who will lose. Why not try watching the game? It's already underway, after all. I really doubt that four years from now, should he turn out to be completely wrong, he'll ever get around to writing another column admitting it.

  • FFS
    May 13, 2011 - 09:55

    That's funny... I'm not left-wing, or an anti-semite, and I've always wondered how Palestinians are supposed to react to being displaced from land that was their home as well. Should I assume that the columnist would take it quietly if his house was annexed so that worshipers of the flying spaghetti monster would have somewhere to call home that was free of persecution?

  • Look Out
    May 13, 2011 - 09:52

    Look out Brian, those lefties are crazy and far more dangerous than any right winger.

  • chris
    May 13, 2011 - 09:45

    Chantal Hebert commented on the National last night that the most surprising result of the Federal election was that the NDP vote share increased in B.C, Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. This was overshadowed by the huge win in Quebec. It shows that the NDP is truly a national party unlike the Libs or the Bloq. The NDP finished second place in many of the ridings they did not win. Harper faces massive inflation, a real estate bubble that is soon to burst, and challenging unemployment figures. The next four years will truly test his mettle to control spin. The NDP is well placed with a massive opposition caucus, a re-energized base, research dollars and a strong leader. It should be a good show.

  • Jack
    May 13, 2011 - 09:45

    The NDP is just not professional enough, not centrist enough to provide a serious alternative. With the Liberals destroyed, get ready for years and years of Conservative rule.

  • Guy from Ontario
    May 13, 2011 - 09:44

    " After all, if debate arises about, say, Middle East policy, left-wing anti-Semites will inevitably start spouting off. They’re easy to spot. They’re the ones who defensively proclaim, “We don’t hate Jews. We just hate Israel.” " What you described isn't anti-Semite, Brian. "Semites" include Arabs as well, but maybe you've bought into the Israeli propaganda and constant use of their race card. No intelligent, informed individual would buy into their "anyone who opposes Israel is anti-Semitic" message. It's ludicrous and downright racist. Opposing Israel's aggressive policies to oppress Palestinians isn't anti-Israel either, Brian. The same way that opposing the American-led war in Iraq doesn't make one anti-American. Maybe you need to stop being closed minded, get some perspective and stop generalizing.

    • Mark Spark
      May 13, 2011 - 10:08

      Hey Guy from Ontario: Palestinians have more to fear from their corrupted leadership than from the Israelis... who after all.. occupy .1% of the Middle East land mass. Too much for you? Why don't you do some research and get back to us on the number of times the Palestinian "leadership" has blocked any attempt at getting their own state beginning in 1948 .. because to wipe out any Jewish presence in the Middle East was so much more politically expedient than ... oh .. let's say building schools, hospitals ... literacy rates. Hey Guy ... the 23 state solution seems to be working pretty well. That's 22 Arab countries and Israel. Still too much for you? I know... you're not an anti-Semite... you're just a progressive. By the way... that canard about Arabs being semites may be true... but so what? That disingenuous response is so old. It has nothing to do with the term Anti-Semite ... which has just one accepted meaning. English is a dynamic language. Learn it.

    • Shabib Al Kalbani
      May 13, 2011 - 11:46

      Yes Mark, some people just can't handle being third-class citizens on their own land. Perhpas you should research the number of times the Israeli government blocked, ignored or just ran roushod over any number of treaties, UN resolutions and other agreements. BTW, suggesting that Palestinians should just go off to the other Arab states -- since they are all Arabs anyway, is just the teeniest bit racist.

  • Jack Moes
    May 13, 2011 - 09:43

    You mock the country for choosing Day, a man who believes in a young earth. Do you realize that there are far more people on earth who believe in a young earth than an old one? And have you considered that if everyone on earth had a vote on a young or old earth, the majority would vote for the young? That's democracy............

    • Margo
      May 13, 2011 - 09:54

      So if a majority believes something to be true, it is? Fine. The majority don't believe that Jesus was the saviour, ergo Christianity is wrong.

    • Shabby
      May 13, 2011 - 09:55

      But you see, Jack Moes, science isn't based on how many deluded people vote which way but on, well, science. That most people desperately cling to one religious superstition or another doesn't establish the legitimacy of superstition. They're so divergent and contradictory in so many ways that accepting these superstitions as legitimate would entail embracing alternative realities as legitimate - and that's the stuff of asylums.

    • Rik
      May 13, 2011 - 09:56

      No, he mocked the countyry for voting for an idiot. The age of the earth is not up for a vote and intelligence is not democratic.

    • Robert Sheehy
      May 13, 2011 - 10:51

      The fact that great numbers of people believe in a young earth doesn't mean anything. No matter how many people think something is right, if it's wrong, it's still wrong!

  • Ace
    May 13, 2011 - 09:41

    Wow. It takes effort and some considerable logical leaps to turn the most astonishingly good result in the NDP's history into the beginning of the end. Tell me, would you have written a column like this about any other party's gaining more than 60 seats?

  • Chantal
    May 13, 2011 - 09:33

    ... the NDP [...] must snuff out its reputation for being influenced by unions, especially public-sector unions." Not to mention the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, The Fraser Institute, Canadian Bankers Association, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Conference of Defense Associations... OOOOh, the NDP?... Sorry I thought we were talking about the Conservatives. Yes, those unions are too powerful. Imagine, 5-day work weeks and pensions!

  • bill fox
    May 13, 2011 - 09:31

    Brian your a wind bag and your in the wrong country ,.talk about a self centered fool,man what will you write next

  • ...soon-to-be-hated Conservatives
    May 13, 2011 - 09:01

    Perfect. Let's hope Canada sees Harper for what he really is in the next four years: a wolf in sheep's clothing. Let's also hope we're not in too bad of shape afterwards.

  • Taxpayer
    May 13, 2011 - 08:59

    I have always wondered what a columnist who must write something once every week comes up with when the well is dry. i guess this is it.

  • Abdul Saieed
    May 13, 2011 - 08:54

    Ah yes, the old McCarthyite line that if you even question the Israeli State or infer that Palestinians are anything other than a bunch of murderous Jihadists who deserve to be treated as animals, 1. you HATE Israel and 2. you are a de facto anti-Semite. (The racist assumption being that Israeli policies represent the will of ALL Jews.) By the same logic, are your shots at, say, Iran or Kaddafi an indication of your own hatred for Muslims? I would argue that it isn't. Then again, your articles, Brian, have taken some not-too-subtle shots at Muslims that would have been unthinkable had they been directed towards other minorities.