THUNDER BAY – One thing for certain, the NDP is no longer the house that Jack built. Between efforts to control his caucus as tightly as the Conservatives, and his choosing of fights within Canada, Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are looking less and less like Jack Layton’s NDP.
Mulcair’s deep Quebec roots are showing over his recent moves on Alberta’s energy sector.
The New Democrat leader must not be a student of history, or at least maybe a student of Canadian history. Mulcair seems to have no idea of the trouble that slamming Alberta can have for political parties. Prime Minister Trudeau tried it once, putting forward the ‘National Energy Program’. The NEP destroyed Alberta’s economy, and soured the soup for the federal Liberals across the west. In Alberta today, across the political landscape in most ridings it would be easier to weigh the Conservative vote as much as count it. The New Democrats in many ridings have done exactly what they did in Quebec in the last election, many candidates are simply names on the ballot.
In poking a sharp worded stick into the ribs of the economic engine of the energy sector, Mulcair is ensuring that westerners bunch the New Democrats in with the politics of the past. That is a move that no smart politician would do.
Likely the NEP was the real impetus for the start of the Reform Party, which formed as that frustration in the west boiled over on former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The anger of the time led to what was, at least in Quebec was outrage over some Reform Party ads stating “No more Prime Ministers from Quebec”.
The west wanted in, and now the west is in. It is likely something that the Quebec-bred Mulcair really does not get.
What is unusual for the NDP leader in his full frontal attack on the Oil Patch is that he is seemingly oblivious that Saskatchewan is a part of Western Canada’s growing economic power too. Saskatchewan used to be fertile ground for the New Democrats. The NDP leader is virtually assuring the party a no-growth policy in the west.
He is also likely bolstering the Conservatives fundraising efforts across the west. In politics, it always helps to have a target to encourage donations.
It is possible that ‘Tom’ as he would like to be called outside of Quebec is going to find himself stymied in his fight against western Canada’s growing economic might. However Thomas is taking a path that westerners likely won’t care what he wants to call himself, they just won’t support him.
A better idea might be pushing to have Canada’s energy wealth kept in Canada, and pushing for a policy of energy self sufficiency within our country.
The NDP attack on Alberta likely won’t cost them much in terms of seats in the west.
Linda Duncan in Edmonton Strathcona is likely safe, as long as the Liberal support stays the course with her too. In Saskatchewan, there are no NDP MPs. Manitoba while often the gateway to the west elected two New Democrats.
The prairies are strongly Conservative. There are two Liberal MPs across the prairie provinces. One in Manitoba and one in Saskatchewan. The NDP has three MPs across the three prairie provinces.
That likely is part of the rational that the NDP can use in this attack on the west, it is likely an effort to do that ages old fight between regions.
It is a sad return to the politics of divide and fight, and not likely to bolster the NDP in the long run. The key to government in Canada today must include all regions of the country. Right now Thomas Mulcair is ignoring the growing economic power of Western Canada.
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