Sunday, August 27, 2017

Leadership 2017 Candidate Rankings - August 27

We'll have to wait until next week to learn about the final membership count for the federal NDP's leadership campaign. But today's Montreal debate and other developments result in one shift in the rankings - while an opportunity for another one has been lost for now.

1. Charlie Angus (1)

While the other three candidates spent a substantial amount of time on Guy Caron's Quebec strategy (including a brief media flare-up over Bill 62 and religious freedom), Angus's response in both the debate and the media was to provide the most succinct answer possible while two of his competitors struggled to find their footing.

That success in navigating a tricky issue, combined with a fairly strong showing in the final French-language debate, helps to keep him at the front of the pack for now. But again, the relative position of Angus and Singh by this time next week will be determined in no small part by the membership numbers.

2. Jagmeet Singh (2)

In contrast to Angus, Singh took some time to respond to Caron - making for the second time Singh has been conspicuously slow to address a key issue. But once he spoke out publicly, his initial position seemed to offer a distinct and powerful alternative: while Caron's positioning ultimately focuses on jurisdictional deference over (or at least parallel to) correctness in principle, Singh offered a strong stand as to the importance of not disproportionately attacking minorities.

But if his debate message on the same issue didn't specifically backtrack on his public statement, it also failed to highlight what could have been an important contrast not only for him, but for the party's overall debate. And that represents a missed opportunity for Singh to turn the tables on Caron and Ashton in putting principle ahead of political calculation on a hot-button issue.

3. Guy Caron (4)

Caron made some progress in a crucial week for his campaign - both in again setting the agenda with his own proposals, and in outdebating his competitors on his home turf. But while he was the most comfortable candidate in today's debate by far, I'm not sure he was quite convincing enough to start the type of shift he needs in member support.

The end result is that Caron moves ahead of Ashton for now - based less on their likely first-choice support than on his growth potential if he lasts past the first ballot.

4. Niki Ashton (3)

Finally, Ashton drops to the bottom of the rankings due to two unforced errors: one involving her questionably wading into Manitoba's provincial leadership campaign, the other her muddled response to religious accommodation and Quebec's culture.

Those new problems only seem to echo a few earlier faux pas which similarly created negative impressions of Ashton - whether based on disagreement on the merits, or simply matters of political judgment. And I'd expect that growing narrative be a significant hurdle as she tries to win support beyond her initial base.


  1. One thing no one seems to have concidered in the Kinew vs. Steve/Niki Ashton situation is the possiblity that Kinew may have been the victim of the domestic, not the abuser.

    Its not usual for male victims of female on male violence to be the ones who get arrested.

    Or it could have been mutual violence.

    It would help to explain why the charges were Stayed.

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