That is the question I pose as to the impact of four NDP MPs from British Columbia deciding that a jump to the rough-and-tumble and far-from-a-sure-thing world of provincial politics may be a better option than sitting around waiting for Thomas Mulcair to, you know, do something.
The four MPs include two frontbenchers, House Leader Nathan Cullen (who came in third versus Mulcair in the 2012 leadership race), and Employment critic Jinny Sims, as well as Fin Donnelly and Peter Julian. The four have confirmed their "interest" in running for the leadership of the BC NDP, vacated by the hapless Dix a couple of weeks ago (well, technically he is still there until mid-2014, but for all intents and purposes he is a lame duck). That isn't an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, certainly not as easy as being on the frontbench of the federal Opposition, and in a good position to become a minister in a couple of years, versus possibly Premier in four years. So the question really becomes why these MPs, who otherwise have great careers going for them, would be willing to make this highly uncertain jump?
Some, like Warren Kinsella, say that its a sign of things to come, that Mulcair is going to have his "beard turn gray" if ever faced with this kind of mass exodus, as well as the attendant by-elections. I tend to agree - if anything, these MPs deciding to call it quits and run for another job is a sign that they're not putting too much stock into Mulcair's assertions that his party will be the one creating the "#PostHarperEra."
Or, they could simply be tired of a fairly stale federal scene. A good example of what I mean would be to look back to the resignations that Harper faced back before the 2011 election, including bigwigs like Jim Prentice, Greg Thompson, and Stockwell Day, major ministers in his government that retired and missed out on Harper's majority! Whatever their reasoning, they grew tired of being in government and found greener pastures, and they had a lot more to lose than these Official Opposition MPs I might add.
But, the reality is that we're probably reading way too much into this. Politicians are an ambitious lot, and those ambitions for higher office and more prestigious titles will always tug people away, even if their party or group seems to be on the upswing. Successful politicians are always on the lookout for these kinds of opportunities, after all. We shouldn't read too much into it if they decide to take them up.
Still, as Kinsella mentioned, the possibility of by-elections in any of these ridings would probably scare the bejeezus out of Mulcair. All four of the BC ridings feature a strong opposition, mostly Conservative though the Liberals were second in Jinny Sims' riding of Newton-North Delta. Without the right candidate or a feeling of momentum, the NDP could very easily lose each one.
In that case, maybe it is time for Mulcair to worry a tad.