Since the election in May I had high hopes for the NDP. The party had achieved two major breakthroughs. The first becoming the official opposition and the second being the massive win in Quebec. The reason in large part was the leadership of Jack Layton and the parties decision to do politics differently.
The NDP campaign was less about the other guys and more about what the NDP would do. Sure there were attacks on the Conservatives, Liberals and BLOC, but not in the same way these other parties were attacking each other and eventually attacking the NDP. I was proud of the campaign and even happier with the overall behavior of the NDP in the House of Commons. The NDP have largely stuck to their no heckling rule.
During the campaign, Layton stressed that the NDP would try to make parliament work. As opposition, the NDP would not only oppose, they would propose. They did this, much to the frustration of the main stream media, who are use to the cut and thrust of question period. The official opposition were expected to attack the government. If the Government announced it was sunny outside, the NDP were expected to say it was raining. I lost count of the number of occasions I read tweets from the press gallery chiding the NDP for not acting in the expected way.
The NDP approach to official opposition was and is different. It has been lost in all the attention of the media on the leadership and the Conservative legislation. I believe the current NDP approach will continue after a new leader is elected. That with the focus of a new leader the public will actually see that the NDP are doing something that other parties only pay lip service too, ie, being less about scoring points and more about working for Canadians.
One can only imagine what could have been. The NDP with Layton still at the helm would have performed much better in the House. They would have had their full team there. Important critics like Nash, Mulcair, Cullen, Dewar, Aston and Saganash would be fully focused on House business. Even though the Conservatives have the votes, they would have been under a great deal more pressure with the popular Layton, with a full team at hand.
The NDP leadership campaign has been pretty boring for most of the media. They want sparks. That's how you are supposed to separate yourself as a candidate from the others. Again, the media have almost never cared about previous NDP leaderships, largely because it didn't matter a great deal to them. Now of course its different as the person elected stands a reasonable chance of becoming the next Prime Minister.
If the Media had covered NDP leadership contests in the past, they would know that there are not many sparks,at least not publicly. The old adage was if you want to go to a fun convention go to the Tories for free booze, to the Libs for swanky stuff and the NDP convention if you want to discuss policy.
Until today that has been the NDP leadership race. A few soft little jabs but nothing that the Conservatives could really use in an election ad. That changed. Brian Topp seems to figure his main obstacle to becoming leader is Mulcair. He may be right. Topp all but said today that Mulcair was a Liberal dressed in NDP colours. The strategy may work for Topp and it may backfire. NDP members don't usually take too kindly to our leaders attacking each other. If Mulcair fires back, he could do more harm to himself than Topp.
I did not care for Topp's attack. We don't need that. Put forward your ideas, let us decide.
I have yet to decide who to support. It's likely to be one of four, Topp, Nash, Mulcair or Cullen. I just might vote for Ashton on the first ballot and make my real choice for leader on the second ballot.