The NDP “won” the position of Opposition party in yesterday’s election, but it is a very pyrrhic victory indeed.
Consider well where most of the seats were won– Quebec, the Valhalla of Canadian politics, the place where parties go to die (eg. the Liberals and the Bloc).
The Quebecois are bandwagon-jumpers par excellence. They will jump off just as quickly as they jumped on when the mood suits them, and that is just one of many problems for the leader of the NPD, as it is called in Quebec. Here is a partial list of more.
1) Jack has a caucus full of neophytes, which could be good, but also could be very, very bad. It depends on how well he can control them, not just in front of the camera, but also in the back rooms where certain deals are made. Quebec politics is not known for its purity.
2) Jack is now beholden to the wishes of Quebec. As the majority of his MPs come from that province, they will be expecting him to make and deliver on their demands. If he does not succeed any better than the Bloc, he will eventually go the way of the Bloc.
3) Jack won a personal popularity contest in Quebec. The NDP as a party does not have traditional support in Quebec. Make a change of leaders and the result would have been/will be very different.
4) When the Conservative government cuts the taxpayer subsidies to parties, the NDP will be in financial trouble because Quebeckers don’t open their purses to polictical parties. In fact, that was why Chretien initiated those subsidies in the first place, thus creating the irony of the federal government subsidizing the separist Bloc for so many years.
So, NDPers, enjoy your Party today. I am afraid you may mourn for it tomorrow.