14 February 2016

Knock it off, Tom, it wasn't the niqab

I am a long-time member of the NDP but not, I'm afraid, a member of the Tom Mulcair fan club. I didn't support his election to leader primarily because I've never believed he is a committed social democrat. He seems more of an opportunistic liberal, about as left-wing as Tony Blair. (Oddly, the leading socialist in North America these days is an American.)

Nonetheless, Mulcair wants very much to remain head of the NDP, and insists he should lead the party into the next election, while blaming the loss of the last one on decisions he made around TV debates and the niqab. The niqab "hurt us terribly," he recently said, "I can share with you that the polling we did showed we dropped over 20 points in 48 hours here in Quebec because of the strong stand I took on the niqab."

Well, maybe. He's got the figures in front of him and I don't, so I'll have to take his word for it. But Trudeau made a vigorous defence of the niqab and it didn't seem to hurt him in Quebec or anywhere else. The trends of the cross-country polling showed the NDP peaking in late August and declining fairly steadily after that. But the niqab debate didn't heat up until late September and, interestingly, that's when the Liberals took off.

In light of the above, Tom's niqab-blaming looks a bit dodgy and, quite frankly, leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Sounding rueful about taking a stand on civil rights is not something a social democrat should ever do.

The NDP election effort lacked inspired leadership and the platform was too cautious. The party needs to get back to its social democratic roots and it needs a leader to take it there. Enough of this middle-of-the-road pretense.


  1. Yes, Bill, I think Mr. Mulcair is using the Niqab business as a convenient straw man. That it contributed to the collapse is likely but, as you and the numbers demonstrate, support was already tanking a month earlier. Mulcair steered the party much too far to the right with his balanced budget commitment and clamping down on those who dared criticize Israel. I think he took the party where he instinctively prefers - to the political centre and beyond.

    Besides, Bill, he's of our vintage and it's time for newer blood to tackle the big issues that will be far larger once we're gone. Don't hire a pilot who won't be around for the landing.

  2. The NDP would be making a big mistake if they keep Mulcair as leader. It kind of surprises me that their considering it. If they got a more socially democratic leader, I think they may have a chance in 2019.