Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Analysis: NDP Leadership Candidates

Those of you among our frequent readership who are Canadian probably already know about the New Democratic Party. The NDP is Canada's official opposition party in the 41st Parliament, and their former leader, Jack Layton, died of cancer last year. The process of replacing their party leader has dragged on for months, but at least it has finally been whittled down to a manageable number of candidates.

The role of the official opposition is important, and leadership of that party equally so. While I'm not a member of the New Democratic Party, and therefore don't get a vote on their leadership, I still thought it would be helpful to provide a reasonably brief overview of the candidates for the position, so that the rest of you have an idea who to vote, hope, pray, or otherwise pull for.

National Post Photo
Niki Ashton is the youngest candidate, and a Member of Parliament (MP) for Churchill, Manitoba. In 2011 Ms. Ashton worked together with documentary film maker Michael Moore to prevent the closing of a Manitoba smelter and refinery owned by the Brazilian mining company, Vale, which had been operating on a conditional loan from the Conservative-lead Government. Saying what you like about Moore, Ashton displays a certain amount of social conscientiousness. Still, it is hard to get a definite read on so young a candidate, particularly when they have little legislative record for analysis. While Ms. Ashton may yet win the leadership vote, I feel comfortable in naming her as an also-ran.

Globe and Mail
Nathan Cullen is the MP for Skeena-Bulkely Valley, which is my former neck of the woods (I lived there from my birth until the age of 12, for full disclosure's sake). He has proven to be highly electable within his own riding, surviving numerous elections and even, as I recall it, a challenge for the NDP candidacy. In 2009, his office conducted a competition among students 10-17 to propose legislation, and as a result, tabled two private member's bills based on that competition: C-399 and C-400. C-399 was to ban the mining and export of asbestos, a known environmental hazard with implications in lung disease. C-400 was to establish the development of cyclist-friendly infrastructure. Cullen's candidacy is based largely around two things I support: the assertion that a green economy does not mean a declining economy, and electoral reform toward a Proportional Representation system. He has demonstrated support for (wikipedia): Creating a national public transit strategy, instituting carbon cap-and-trade pricing, putting a moratorium on new genetically modified organisms, and redefining the Canadian Wheat Board. With the possible exception of cap-and-trade, I personally support all of those things in my own politics. Though I am, again, not voting for the leadership, I am very happy to throw my support behind Mr. Cullen.

Paul Dewar is MP for Ottawa Centre. Before entering politics, he worked as a school teacher and was elected to the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation. His legislative career has been fairly lackluster.

Mr. Dewar was raised as a Catholic, but currently takes exception to many Church positions such as those on: same-sex marriage, birth control, and women's rights. For the last four years or so, he has been attending the United Church.

Because of his lackluster legislative career, I am given to doubt his success in the leadership contest.

There are, of course, other candidates, but for the most part, they are all somewhat par for the course. Martin Singh is a businessman and a convert to Sikhism with no political career to speak of. Thomas Muclair is an MP from Quebec with little national experience other than being co-Deputy Leader under Layton.  There were two other candidates who I could find even less information on than that: Peggy Nash, and Brian Topp.

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