“Why this is the most important campaign the NDP has ever fought” (The Globe and Mail)

Bruce Anderson (The Globe and Mail):

“So, there’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset Canada’s political table. Victory is within sight. But it won’t be easy. Here are the biggest challenges and obstacles facing the NDP between here and October 19th.”

“As popular as the NDP’s Sherbrooke declaration might be in parts of Quebec, it will rankle voters elsewhere. A 50 per cent+1 exit from Confederation simply looks more like populism than the careful stewardship Canadians prefer. Mr. Mulcair bristles when criticized for his position, but bristling won’t make this problem go away.”

“Mr. Mulcair talks up his sustainability policy initiatives in Quebec and asserts that they were among the very best anywhere in the world. But as we get closer to Election Day, voters are going to wonder what these words mean. Most voters want a government that cares more about the environment, but not one that cares less about jobs.”

“Few Canadians fret about the tax loads facing corporations. But that’s not the same as wanting corporate tax rates to rise. If the NDP sounds like it might make policy mistakes that could drive away investment, support levels will droop pretty quickly.”

“Finally, the NDP is popular when it is styled as a friendly, underdoggy, ‘little-engine-that-could’ success story.”

“But on a handful of occasions since this campaign started, there were echoes of the kind of thing that other parties have done in the past, at their peril. High-handedness about taking questions. Fussiness about participation in debates. These are hallmarks of a party that sees itself as a frontrunner, and thinks what frontrunners do is sit on a lead and let the clock run out.”

“The top NDP strategists are smart people who know this won’t work. I’m sure adjustments are underway. Because they know that to win this election, the NDP must get two things right: They must anticipate and defuse anxiety about some NDP policy positions. And they must give voters reasons to like the NDP, to want the party to win, to pull for it.”

“No party can afford to look arrogant, but the NDP can least afford this error. People like underdogs, and that’s a big part of the NDP charm.”

Full column here