Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On direct representation

In discussing how the new Parliament has functioned so far, Charlie Angus makes an important point which hints at how the Bloc lost touch with Quebec - as well as where the NDP has a massive opportunity:
NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, Ont.) agreed that it was easier to work with two parties rather than three. He said in the last Parliament, the Bloc Québécois, which was reduced to four seats in the May 2 election, was becoming "increasingly intransigent" and "difficult to work with on some committees" because of their Quebec-only rhetoric.

"Everything seemed to be if the National Assembly of Jean Charest didn't give his personal stamp, we couldn't discuss this. It was problematic. That's gone," he said, praising the NDP Quebec caucus. "The new Quebec caucus in the NDP are engaged, they want to get down to issues, so I feel we're going to be more productive on that level."
Now, at the best of times it would be problematic for a federal political party to see itself as beholden to the instructions of a provincial government. But with the parties currently occupying the National Assembly so desperately unpopular that a party which doesn't technically exist is polling in majority government territory, it shouldn't take much insight to figure out that the best way to reach voters is to engage with them directly - rather than assuming that their values are fully and exclusively expressed through the provincial Libs and the PQ.

Fortunately, the NDP is making it clear that it isn't about to fall into the same trap that ensnared the Bloc. And that gives it a strong chance to build more direct connections to Quebec voters than any party can boast at the federal or the provincial level.

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