Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Most Disappointing Opposition Since Michael Ignatieff's

That's about how I would describe the NDP - or the Official Opposition, as they're officially styled - and its career in the first session of the 41st Parliament.

The New Democratic opposition has really failed to uphold the standard that came with its amazing breakthrough victory in May of this year. Everyone expected this principled, "new" Opposition that would change the way politics were done in Canada through a substantive change in attitude in the Opposition Leader's Office.

But, can anyone actually point out where the NDP has changed the way anything has been done, whether it was under Layton or Turmel?

I can point out a few things they've done that's just wasted our time, like that whole Canada Post debacle earlier in the year before Layton's passing. Or how about the failure to uphold decorum in the House that, despite what Joe Comartin says, is just as bad on their side as the rest?

What about this continuing mess? Not only has Nycole Turmel failed to represent any coherent sort of force in the House, she actually goes against former NDP policies like allowing free votes on matters of conscience such as the gun registry, which Layton allowed (then again, they did essentially kick out Dejarlais when she opposed SSM, didn't they?). Let's also not forget the fact that as party leader, she is seriously failing at her job of expanding the party's base and getting it ready in time for a leadership convention.

And overall, the NDP's performance in the House, during QP, during debate, during committee, and during media scrums, just seems disappointing. Almost depressing. Only a couple faces actually make any of it interesting to watch.

Not all of this is necessarily the NDP's fault. Turmel is just an interim leader, probably one that would not have gotten the job if Layton hadn't picked her. Seven of their most experienced and respected MPs, plus Brian Topp, the party's just recently elected president, are out attempting to drum up votes for a leadership race. Add on to this a Conservative government that is stepping way over too many lines, and really, what can you do?

But I did expect something more. Really, the NDP's opposition is about as inspiring as Michael Ignatieff's was during those long two years. Sure, here and there you scored a few victories, but overall, you know you were just losing the war.

And it's not a surprise that the polls are representing that well, because despite the damage Harper's Conservatives have managed to do in this short session, they still lead by an average of 6-9%.

So much for that experiment. Back to politics as usual, I suppose?

1 comment:

  1. The NDP standing up for the Postal Workers, if only in a symbolic gesture, was one of the greatest moments in our parliamentary democracy in many many years. Liberals spun it as a failure because they have as little interest in the rights of workers as the Conservatives do. Obviously they were never going to stop the legislation but if you say their protest meant nothing than you think opposition means nothing. The Liberals, on the other hand support have been supporting the CPC for years because they are two parties with one heart.