Thursday, December 03, 2015

On purposes

There are plenty of questions which the NDP is rightly asking in the wake of this fall's federal election results. But Susan Delacourt is uncharacteristically far off base in her view as to what the main question is.

By way of contrast, the question of "What’s the point of the party anyway?" was a highly relevant one for the Libs after 2011 precisely because the longstanding answer seemed like it might no longer apply. A party whose historic base of support was built around the willingness to take on and discard principles in the name of power brokerage figured to have a great deal of trouble establishing a raison d'etre if it held no realistic prospect of actually winning power. And while I'd have been interested to see what the Libs would have come up with if forced to hash out a coherent ideological base, their remaining forces lined up as readily as they did behind Justin Trudeau precisely because his star power relieved them from any need to answer that question. 

In contrast, the NDP has always had a distinct identity as Canada's labour-based, egalitarian party which has held up through good times and bad. And while it may have spent large (and perhaps undue) amounts of time in the past election trying to reach voters who weren't motivated by those principles, there's no reason to think the NDP will have any trouble fortifying and building on its historical foundation.

And in case there was any doubt, the party's policy messages since the Libs' election win reflect exactly that philosophy - making Delacourt's hand-wringing about the NDP's positioning look like little but a symptom of a failure to pay attention.

So while there are questions about how the NDP can best pursue the goal of exercising and influencing power for the benefit of the many, there's no reason at all to question what its purpose actually is.

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