Let's follow up on the news that the NDP is planning to assemble a Quebec provincial party in time for the next election with a look at how the move would affect the NDP. And lest there be any doubt, I'd see the development as a huge plus for the party at both levels.
For now, though, let's focus on the federal considerations involved.
The most obvious benefit to a Quebec provincial NDP would be the opportunity for greater party-building - in Tom Mulcair's regular analogy, encouraging the growth of roots to support the party's trees. A provincial wing would set up a formal structure for membership sales and fund-raising within the province which has shown the greatest support for the party, while also allowing a far greater number of interested citizens to get involved as volunteers and candidates to build the next generation of potential leaders.
But the more intriguing development might be found in the widespread theory that Canadian politics are headed toward a greater left-vs-right clash of ideas.
So far, the Cons have been ahead of the game in developing national links between like-minded people. But they haven't been able to develop a consistent national and provincial brand like their American counterparts, due in large part to the fact that the Conservative name is mud in at least a few provinces.
That means that after years of the Cons setting the terms of debate, the NDP is now closer than any other party to presenting a consistent set of values across Canada at the federal and provincial levels. And a Quebec NDP would be the final piece of that puzzle.
Of course, with the opportunity for such national definition comes the need for a Quebec NDP to stake out a specific patch of political terrain - which I'll cover in a later post on the possible Quebec effects of a provincial NDP. For now, though, suffice it to say that the advantages in developing a provincial support structure in Quebec look to far outweigh any costs for the federal NDP.