Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Pollcast: The race for the NDP leadership is on

The four candidates for the NDP leadership debated for the first time on Sunday. The event kicked off a race that has been dormant for nearly a year. It won't come to a conclusion until October, when New Democrats decide who should replace Tom Mulcair as their leader.

The debate was a collegial affair. But did it provide any clues as to how this campaign might play out for the next seven months?

Unlike the Conservative leadership race, which has 14 candidates in the running, so far the NDP has a more manageable group to showcase: MPs Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Peter Julian.

But that group may grow soon.

To help navigate the NDP leadership campaign, I'm joined again by NDP insiders Sally Housser of Navigator and Robin MacLachlan of Summa Strategies.

You can listen to the podcast heresubscribe to future episodes here, and listen to past episodes here.


  1. Difficult to tell where this race stands. I still think Peter Julian must be the favourite and not simply he has the most caucus support with four M.P.s. The membership is heavily dominated with Western members and M.Ps. 70% of the caucus is from the West and the membership is likely even more skewed in a Westerly direction.

    Caron has a chance if members think they can maintain their beachhead in Quebec, this to a large extent depends on who the Tories choose; a Blaney or Bernier as Opposition Leader would likely mean an uphill battle to keep their 16 seats and a retrenchment to their Western base, whereas, a Kevin O'Leary, Scheer or anybody else win could give the NDP a needed boost in La Belle Provence.

    Nikki Ashton is an interesting wild card. She appears to be fomenting the environmental wing in a direct challenge to the Greens, for the NDP to win Government both provincially and nationwide the Green Party needs to have <5% support. The NDP have been losing ground to the Greens for the better part of a decade; Three provinces, New Brunswick, B.C. and PEI now have Green members in addition to Ms. May. In PEI it is not unrealistic to think Mr. Bevan-Baker and the Greens could replace the PCs as Official Opposition next election. In B.C. the Greens have fairly decent chance to prevent either the Liberals or NDP from forming a majority Government. I would venture to say; B.C. is closer to having a minority Government today than anytime since the 1952 election that resulted in a Socred minority.

    Charlie Angus is probably the best known of the candidates in English Canada, he's affable, smart and has a proven social democratic and parliamentary track record. His problem is he is essentially going after the same votes as Ashton and Julian, Western anglophone members.

    It will go three or four ballots but, at the end of the day they'll pick one of the two fully bilingual candidates (to hedge their bets); Caron or Julian. My thought is given the membership distribution Julian should win.

  2. A propos of nothing in this article, but to follow up on earlier discussions:

    Those of you who tried to argue that gerrymandering doesn't happen in Canada should read all of the efforts that Quebec politicians are doing to rewrite the redistricting proposed by the Quebec Electoral Commission to "save" their ridings (ie., keep certain demographics from being split across boundaries). Just because it's less subtle than in the States doesn't mean Canadian gerrymandering isn't alive and well. Yet another obvious defect of first-past-the-post.

    1. To some degree what is happening in Montreal is subjective. Is it fair? Justified? Does it fit the definition of gerrymandering?
      The Canadian OED defines gerrymander: Noun and Verb: 1: manipulate the boundaries of (a constituency etc)so as to give undue influence to some party or class. 2: Manipulate (a situation etc) to gain advantage. Noun: this practice.

      I think the definition implies intent. So, for this to be gerrymander the Electoral Commission would have to redraw boundaries with an intended outcome.

    2. I think the removal of these two historic anglophone ridings proof enough! There is no reason for it-only a minority of Montrealais speak French.

      I am curious, is the East Island also being redistricted? If not, I think one has their answer as to the intention.

  3. Don't think Niki Ashton has a chance ??
    I like Peter Julian best.

  4. For the NDP to remain competitive with the ability to form Government, Guy Caron would look like the obvious choice for the next leader. If the NDP wants to be a governing party they need to repeat Jack Layton's "Orange Wave" and Quebec still looks like their best bet to achieve the seat gains required.

    The race is in the early days, from what I know of the candidates; Caron appears to be the "Mulcair wing" candidate; Ashton the "radical progressive/ let's take on the Greens candidate"; Charlie Angus the "parliamentary conscience/moral high ground" candidate and Peter Julian the compromise/ consensus candidate.

    Peter Julian will probably become the next leader since the membership and infrastructure of the party are dominated by Westerners, particularly, Julian's home province of B.C.

    Julian is also the only candidate in a safe NDP seat-an important consideration for a party third in the polls, 4% below their 2015 performance. Having to go through a third leadership race in 8 years would be unwelcome to say the least.

    Just as in the Conservative race it will be tempting to choose a leader from Quebec. I think both races will end up with Francophone v. Anglophone on the final ballot: O'Leary v. Bernier and Caron V. Julian. The Conservative electoral system is generally assumed to help Bernier and the NDP system is generally assumed to help Julian. I think both will win their respective leadership races.

  5. Éric,

    I know very little about the NDP but I would guess that Caron can't win in Quebec like Layton did. In short, Trudeau. Even if Liberals drop in Quebec, Justin is perceived by many Quebecers as a francophone leader. That would tend to limit NPD momentum in Quebec, even if Trudeau seriously falters.


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