Let's start with this from Lawrence Martin:
For New Democrats, it’s time for a national powwow. National leader Thomas Mulcair is planning to bring together all provincial NDP leaders for a party conference in January. The goal is to set a coherent and cohesive policy agenda for the party moving forward.Of course, the flip side to that "risk" is that it serves to nicely distinguish Mulcair from some federal leaders who are rather more frightened to share space with their provincial counterparts. And the exercise in team-building will also provide a noteworthy contrast to the Libs' individual-driven leadership race (which otherwise figures to continue to receive outsized media attention.)
It’s an unusual step. Federal party leaders don’t normally collect all their provincial counterparts in one room. It’s risky — it could expose divisions. But Mr. Mulcair is confident that the huddle will produce a united front, one which gives Canadians a clear idea of where the party wants to take the country.
But the content of the meeting looks more noteworthy than the mere fact that it's being convened. I'm all for encouraging cooperation between the federal and provincial NDP in building a common message on issues of interjurisdictional consensus - and indeed one of the greatest advantages the NDP may hold is its common brand across Canada.
That said, it's somewhat striking to see the meeting aimed at setting a policy agenda taking place in advance of the federal party's spring federal convention. And we'll want to make sure that agreement among party leaders isn't taken to override the NDP's membership.
Meanwhile, Mark Burgess discusses the increased NDP presence in national lobbying firms. And there, I'd think it's worth pushing back somewhat against the premise of the spokespeople playing up such links as a sign of development.
After all, one of the NDP's most effective messages in 2011 was the theme that "Ottawa is broken." And the Cons have done nothing but give the NDP ample ammunition to argue that government capture and closed-door decision-making have resulted in the needs of the general public getting crushed under the weight of corporate interests.
Under those circumstances, I'd much prefer to see the NDP pressing its advantage as a party which hasn't been co-opted by the same old vested interests - and indeed which has enough membership strength to avoid such a fate. And the more high-profile party figures talk up the concept of fighting for turf within a broken system, the more difficult it may be to make the case that the NDP can and will fix it.