Anthony Furey (Postmedia Network):
The party’s long-term base will be extremely unhappy if they arrive at the promised land of an NDP government only to find themselves governing from the centre for a four-year term.
If you thought the occasional flare-ups from corners of the Conservative Party about Stephen Harper not being socially conservative enough were newsworthy, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The base’s skepticism of Mulcair’s sincerity has no doubt increased. First, they had to ignore the fact he’s a former Quebec Liberal. Then this June, reports resurfaced that Mulcair considered joining the Conservatives in 2007, a year before he first ran for the NDP in 2008 (Mulcair denies much of the story). Then that video emerged of Mulcair reciting conservative mantra and praising Margaret Thatcher in the Quebec legislature in 2001.
The NDP leader is currently hanging in a delicate balance. He could be attacked from rogue elements within his own party any day now for his centrist policies. But if he undertakes actions to pre-empt this, like introducing more far-left policy, it will scare away an electorate currently willing to give him the keys to 24 Sussex.
The solution? Stay the course in policy, but spend time rekindling the romance with the base. Remind them that the $15 daycare plan and the $15 minimum wage for federally-regulated workers are still front and centre.
Those policies are right in their wheelhouse. They’re the sort of “economics of optimism” that no conservative would come within miles of endorsing. It’s big government and socialist-inspired redistribution through and through. Mulcair needs to remind them they’ll have to choose their battles if they want to win them.
It’ll be a tough sell. Many NDPers and Conservatives, to their credit, are different than Liberals in that they’re not necessarily interested in power for power’s sake. They get involved in party politics because of a deeply rooted passion for the issues.
Mulcair’s pact with pragmatism does not mix well with such people.