Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Building momentum

There's been ample talk today to the effect that the federal NDP is at a crossroads going into the upcoming election. But far less attention has been paid to some important signals that the NDP is headed in the right direction.

First, there's the announcement that Thomas King will be seeking the NDP's nomination for Guelph:
Writer, radio personality and professor Thomas King has officially thrown his hat into the political ring.

King is seeking the nomination as Guelph's New Democratic Party candidate in the next federal election, which could come as early as this spring...

King, 63, is a University of Guelph English professor, the author of almost a dozen books and creator and star of the CBC-Radio series "The Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour."

A former photojournalist, King was raised in California. He was active in promoting native rights, the environment and social causes.
Note that Guelph has been a close riding for several elections now - which makes for a strong chance that a candidate with national name recognition such as King will be able to put the NDP over the top in the riding, as well as giving the party's image a boost across the country.

And if that weren't enough good news, there's also talk that the NDP may be about to unveil a new star candidate in Quebec:
The former Liberal MNA for Chomedey may be getting ready to make the jump to federal politics, and has his eyes on the New Democrats.

NDP Leader Jack Layton confirms Thomas Mulcair, who quit Jean Charest's Liberal cabinet in February 2006 after a cabinet shuffle, has been talking with him.
Mulcair was in the front row at the University of Montreal during a noon hour speech by Layton, and was seen driving Layton in his car when they left the university.
The NDP leader says he and Mulcair have been talking about important issues facing Quebecers and Canada for quite some time.

Mulcair announced last month that he would not run in the current Quebec election campaign.
Of course, any decision for Mulcair is yet to be confirmed. But it's nonetheless significant that a prominent former MNA is interested in helping the NDP to make inroads into Quebec.

Remember as well that while both the Cons and the Libs have lost a number of incumbent MPs, the NDP currently looks to have all of its sitting Members of Parliament back in the race whenever the next election occurs. And whether or not one believes there's a particular strength in NDP incumbency, it can only help matters to be able to add new talent to an already-strong slate, rather than having to replace a significant amount of departed experience.

Which isn't to say that the NDP doesn't have work to do in building its popular support to (and beyond) the level achieved in the 2006 election. But the current efforts to count out the NDP seem to be missing some significant parts of the bigger picture - and it's still entirely possible that the next trip to the polls will only see a continuation of the NDP's growth over the past few election cycles.

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