The recent political demise of Tom Mulcair at the helm of the federal NDP could very well herald a new era in politics in Canada.
With Stephen Harper stepping aside as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada following the defeat of his government in last fall’s Oct. 19 election and the rejection of Mulcair as NDP leader by the voters and by his own party, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals look like a sure bet for at least two majority terms in Parliament.
While Trudeau was able to blend old party faithful candidates with a surprising array of younger and newer political faces in an extremely successful campaign, neither of his major opponents could rise to that challenge.
Voters overwhelmingly endorsed Trudeau’s politics of inclusion and diversity, something Harper’s Conservatives and Mulcair’s NDP were unable to understand or emulate.
In the coming months, Canadians will be witness to leadership campaigns for the NDP and Conservatives and will have a first hand opportunity to see if anything has changed in those parties.
Will the NDP be able to mend the growing rift between the extreme leftist Leap Manifesto party elements and the more centrist politics of the rest of the real world?
The damage done by the issuance of the Leap Manifesto by Ontario-based NDP members in the midst of last year’s federal election is still viewed by many other NDP members as a fatal last step as the party walked the plank into a sea of political oblivion.
The Leap Manifesto is a policy document designed to move the country away from fossil fuel dependence to some more environmentally friendly means of power generation.
The impact on Mulcair’s federal campaign was swift and decisive and launched the federal NDP on a downward spiral from which the party has yet to recover.
While the Leap Manifesto promotes the elimination of all petroleum pipelines, it is a total anathema to Alberta’s oil industry and B.C.’s LNG and resource-based economies.
The obvious schism between Rachel Notley’s Alberta NDP government and the Leap Manifesto supporters must be addressed, and sooner rather than later.
Failure to meet this huge challenge could very well relegate the federal NDP to bystander status in Canadian politics for decades to come.
The same enormous challenge faces B.C. NDP leader John Horgan, who will come face to face in next year’s provincial election with the damages the Leap Manifesto would impose on British Columbia’s economy.
The immediate future of the Conservative Party of Canada doesn’t look much brighter as the main candidates to replace Stephen Harper as party leader are mainly old school party war horses who all blindly followed Harper off the edge of a political cliff like a herd of stampeding lemmings.
Unlike Mulcair, Harper has not stuck around as party leader and now sits in the House of Commons as an ordinary member of Parliament as the Conservatives plan a leadership campaign process to replace him.
The biggest challenge facing the Conservatives will boil down to eliminating the influence pedaling of the back room boys.
Coupled with the Senate scandals, it was the power clique which helped create the mood of dislike and distrust that led Harper’s government to defeat.
Much like the federal NDP, the Conservatives must forge a renewal of true Conservative values or the party could remain on the sidelines indefinitely.
The era of big government, big business, big unions and cronyism of the NDP and Conservatives must be relegated to the passing annals of federal and provincial politics in Canada.
The outcome of the leadership campaigns for the federal NDP and the Conservative Party of Canada will help determine the political direction of this country for decades to come.
– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.