The NDP leader is learning fast and shifting his party
By Bruce A Stewart
There’s a lot of “you’re either with us or you’re against us” thinking in this country.
Talking, for instance, about one region’s needs raises another’s hackles. Especially if anything less than 100 per cent devotion isn’t on the table.
So Albertans hear Thomas Mulcair talk about manufacturing renewal, and express a few concerns about the oil sands, and decide he’s “against”.
Hold on. Mulcair is feeling his way toward a very different set of policies than the NDP has had in the past.
He’s using his extended honeymoon and top-of-the-polls standing to carry on a very public dialogue.
Let’s be reasonable for a minute. If many of our traditional jobs are going or gone, we do have to create new opportunities to replace them.
That means making new things for new markets, or providing services that aren’t being provided today.
To say we have to restore the manufacturing heartland is just common sense — more common sense than the provincial governments involved are showing.
Doing more with our Canadian assets just makes sense. So does not creating a permanently depressed area.
Wasn’t the destruction of the Maritime manufacturers in the 19th century and the relentless lack of opportunity there enough of a warning not to ignore these things?
Today, the Atlantic provinces are starting to grow again. Part of that is resources. Part is having made infrastructure investments. Part is people saying “enough of going away”.
Moving eight or nine million people around the country? There aren’t that many opportunities in the stronger areas.
What Mulcair’s doing is trying to find the elements that avoid industrial policy (let’s “bet on winners”), detach his party from union claims, show economic good sense, yet offer reasons why voters would choose him.
The seats he needs to win for that are in Ontario. There’s also a block of seats on the Prairies that could swing his way with the right message.
He’s also trying to pluck off Liberals and defuse the Green challenge. Become the centre-left party, not the left wing party — and no longer the looney left, either.
It’s a tough balancing act, it all takes place out in the open, and it’s designed to bring him and his party to contend for Government and succeed if they win it.
Here’s a man looking to engage, to learn, to be sold. So sell him.
Sell him on why he should be a more vocal supporter of current resource practices. Sell him on your vision of the future.
He’s coming at Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC with an offer of “both/and”, not “either/or”.
You may not want to vote for him or his party, but you can make him and his party better.
Better for Canada.
Better for you.
For an election will come where they win it, if only because governments do end up defeating themselves and wearing out their welcome.
Bruce Stewart is a consultant, educator and philosopher with a passion for public affairs currently located in Toronto. He is well known across the Internet for his blogs on management (Getting Value from IT) and social affairs (Just a Jump to the Left, then a Step to the Right) and for his daily stream of commentary on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can reach him at email@example.com.