PHOTOS: Candidate Niki Ashton, in Edmonton during the 2012 NDP leadership race. (Photo: Olav Rokne.) Below: Charlie Angus, Jagmeet Singh, Guy Caron and the late Jack Layton. (Photos: All from the Wikimedia Commons.)
Like a rural highway through northern Alberta, the federal New Democratic Party’s leadership race has seemed long, slow, and not particularly interesting.
There’s always the possibility a moose will dash out in front of your pickup truck,* but mainly it’s just been the sight of trees whizzing past, kilometre after interminable kilometre.
Instead … not so much.
This is partly by accident – it’s not 2012 any more. That is to say, New Democrats, in Alberta and elsewhere, are no longer in shock at the death of Jack Layton, the leader who the year before brought them to the threshold of government in Ottawa. The future doesn’t look as bright as it did when NDPers picked the disappointing Thomas Mulcair to replace him. Justin Trudeau is prime minister.
A few hints of a friendlier attitude by some seem to have vanished with the cold reality of the prevailing views of voters in other provinces, especially those in the NDP universe.
Meanwhile, over at Alberta’s United Conservative Party, former Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney and former Wildrose Leader Brian Jean are still theoretically battling over the leadership, and so have other fish to fry. An increasingly confident Mr. Kenney is starting to take more aggressive shots at the NDP, however, and we can expect more of this soon.
Could any of them, upon assuming the leadership of the national party, be pushed toward supporting the Alberta NDP’s pipe (line) dreams? Only if there are the votes in other provinces, and that seems like a diminishing prospect for a national party.
But not having a candidate to vote for who is likely to particularly enhance the prospects for the Alberta NDP may have had a liberating effect for Alberta New Democrats.
If they’re so inclined, they can vote for the candidate they think most likely to poach from the Liberals’ traditional voter base, including Canada’s large immigrant communities. Say, Mr. Singh.
Or maybe they’ll plump for the traditional relationship with working people, as Mr. Angus suggests, or for a strong voice in Quebec, where the party had its breakthrough in 2011 and where Mr. Caron represents constituents.
Savvy Alberta New Democrats who want to help their provincial party’s prospects will support the candidate they think is most likely to focus on things that will have a positive impact on Alberta and Albertans over the longer term, like support for public services, a responsible national revenue policy, and reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians.
If any candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the vote on the party’s preferential, ranked ballots today, that will add up to victory. If none of them do, another vote will commence, with voting ending on Oct. 8. If there’s still no winner, the process repeats, with the ballots counted on Oct. 15. Conventional wisdom says Mr. Singh will come first today.
* This is Alberta, people.