The first ballot results in the Canadian federal NDP leadership race have been announced. Because of the NDP’ s position as official opposition this leadership contest in Canada’s social democratic party is of critical importance in Canadian politics.
The first ballot results show Thomas Mulcair in the lead with 30.1. %, Brian Topp with 21.4 % and a pleasant surprise Nathan Cullen solidly in third with 16.4 % followed by Peggy Nash with 12.8 %. The other three candidates Paul Dewar, Martin Singh and Niki Ashton each had less than 10 % and have now either dropped out or in the case of Ashton been eliminated. Cullen has done extremely well so far and because he very sensibly advocates some degree of electoral co-operation with the third place Liberal party his strong showing is a very welcome development. The Liberals, the New Democrats and the Greens together represent a very clear majority of Canadian voters. Simply by co-operating in about twenty ridings across the country a progressive government can win election in the next federal election in Canada. Lets see how Cullen does in subsequent ballots.
During the waiting period the media in Canada has extensive coverage of the convention. Regrettably one of the former organizers for Paul Martin is on CTV proclaiming falsely that the essence of the Liberal party is fiscal conservatism and socially progressive policy and that co-operation between the parties of the centre left makes no sense.That certainly was not the orientation of the Liberal party under Lester Pearson, Mackenzie King and especially Pierre Trudeau. All three of them were Liberal prime ministers for a total of more than four decades and they all embraced Keynes’ economics and they actively sought out opportunities to co-operate with the NDP and its precursor the C.C.F.Indeed, King referred to the CCF as “Liberals in a hurry” As leaders they combined progressive social policy with appropriate counter cyclical deficit finance. They were right to do so. The combination of fiscal conservatism and progressive social policy is an oxymoron and Liberals and other thoughtful people need to reject it as the failed policy of the recent past.