Death of a political party: Mulcair’s measure.

Federal New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair has reason to be worried. It is fairly obvious now that he cannot hold half the Quebec seats won by Jack Layton in the Orange Wave in 2011. He needs to win seats in Ontario next year and he sees Ontario’s provincial New Democrats are collapsing. It spells trouble with a capital “T.”

And that “T” stands for Trudeau. Andrea Horwath in Ontario is proving to the New Democrats that trying to swing around the Liberals by going to the political right does not work. That is the strategy Mulcair and the federal New Democrats have been experimenting with and it now looks like a sure loser. There is going to be a lot of rethinking the game plan for Mulcair’s people.

Among Mulcair’s biggest policy problems are the major pipelines being planned across Canada and the Conservative energy policy. Mulcair has taken a firm stand directly in the middle of the issue since he was told that the pipelines impact union jobs. He feels he has to support those jobs but environmental activists in both the Liberal and New Democrat parties are becoming increasingly alarmed at the environmental hazards. There will be a lot of support for whichever leader comes up with the best answer.

But with his provincial support base shattered in Ontario, Mulcair is in a desperate situation. That support base does much more than bring out the crowds with signs for the leader at every whistle stop in the campaign. They are the sign crews and literature distributors. They are the ones who hound supporters to vote on election day. They are the candidates and Members of Parliament that Mulcair needs to even keep his status as a political party in the House of Commons.

What will frustrate Mulcair even more is that smart Liberals in Ontario are going to offer the olive branch to former Ontario New Democrats. They will be offered a home in a new and refurbished, more left-wing Liberal Party. They will find it a party willing to work with the unions for the common good but not be dictated to.

Without a solid base of support in either Ontario or Quebec, Mulcair’s New Democrats might as well pass on the election. The key question will be how federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will handle the situation. Will he be smart enough to make an offer to Mulcair?

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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