“Mulcair’s makeover of the New Democrats ” (The Globe and Mail)

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail):

“Not only has Mr. Mulcair held together his caucus of left-wing activists, prairie populists and political neophytes from Quebec, he has managed to complete the NDP’s transformation into a mainstream contender for government.”

“This single-minded pursuit of power has required some trade-offs. The NDP has jettisoned its harder edges in order to appear less threatening. It has become the self-proclaimed champion of the middle class, rather than militant advocate of the poor or working class, and it has watered down its positions on taxes, trade and foreign policy to the point that they often differ only in degree from those of the Liberals or Conservatives.”

“The NDP base has shown itself to be remarkably pliant during this makeover. (…) As NDP Leader, Mr. Mulcair has all but shut down the debate within his caucus on the two most pressing concerns of Canadian progressives – income inequality and expansion of the oil sands. Not only has he ruled out raising taxes on the wealthy, something Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau advocates, he chides jurisdictions that have done so.”

“‘How is New Brunswick going to be able to attract and retain top-level medical doctors when they’re going to be told, ‘Oh, by the way, our tax rate is now going to be close to 60 per cent?’ he said during the Aug. 6 leaders debate. He would raise corporate taxes, but again just “slightly.”

“In 2014, long-time Ontario NDP activists were ‘deeply distressed’ by Leader Andrea Horwath’s decision to run ‘to the right of the Liberals.’ Many traditional NDP supporters ended up voting for Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, whom they considered the true progressive of the two.”

“Mr. Mulcair has defied the skeptics, and may well elude Ms. Horwath’s fate. But this isn’t Mr. Broadbent’s NDP any more. Mr. Mulcair’s NDP has thrown much of the party’s past under its campaign bus.”

Full column here