Marketing Mr. Mulcair.

Will many Canadians notice that the New Democrats renounced their socialist origins over the weekend? Will they realize that the party of Tommy Douglas is no more? The party has decided that it wants to move to the mythical middle of the political spectrum. Despite the Liberal Party having dibs on that part of the political playpen, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says it is just a marketing position.

Mr. Mulcair must have learned his political marketing from Stephen Harper. Harper has two methods of handling his political opponents. He either trashes them or ignores them. And, as many of his opponents have learned, trashing means you are worrying him.

Todate, Mr. Mulcair has not seemed to worry Stephen Harper. In fact, as long as Mr. Mulcair wants to attack the Liberals, Mr. Harper can sit back and enjoy the show. If anyone knows the problems and rewards of a split opposition, Mr. Harper is the expert.

But it is now Mr. Mulcair who has the marketing problem. He said to Tom Clark of Global news the other day that he will win in 2015 because of Stephen Harper’s disrespect for the institutions of government in our country. Canadians knew all about that disrespect in 2011 and it produced a Conservative majority. Mr. Mulcair will have to do better than that issue.

The key question for him is whether he can even hold a majority of seats in Quebec? While the laughing description of voters in Quebec as ‘flash mobs’ is popular with the media, it is a volatility that needs to be understood.  Jack Layton caught the attention of Quebecers in 2011 because of his understanding of the problems they faced. They hated Harper, they despised the old Liberals and were tired of the Bloc Québécois. Voting Orange was their version of the Canadian one-finger salute to all politicians.

And Mulcair and his crew of kids think they can hold that position in Quebec? Mulcair was part of the former Charest Liberal regime that fought with students. Just how he is going to be marketed as young and vital in a centre-left party will take a lot more than a diet, a shave and foregoing the three-piece suits.

And that leaves the problems of the rest of the country. Traditional strongholds of NDP support in the Atlantic, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia are isolated and have their own regional concerns. It was the old socialist origins of the NDP that knitted the party together across Canada and gave it the purity of purpose. Mr. Mulcair is going to miss that strength.


Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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