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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.