Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The ONDP and Toronto


Since Hampton revealed he was quitting in 2009, the big narrative, and "expert opinion", is that the NDP needs to pick a leader from Toronto, to help win more seats in the GTA/Southern Ontario. While I am obviously not an NDP supporter, from a simple examination of the numbers, a Toronto leader would not solve a lot of the NDP's problems.

"Having a strong Toronto leader could give the NDP a big advantage, since McGuinty hails from Ottawa and Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory was shut out of a Toronto riding in the last election, he said.
"If they can just increase their appeal a little bit more, they can get started having some of those seats in metro Toronto and Oshawa and some other places start to fall into their lap,'' Jacek said."

Ok, it is obviously true that if NDP support in the GTA picked up a bit, they could win more seats. But lets look at the numbers: Other than the ones they held, obviously, in only 3 seats in the GTA, (Davenport, York South-Weston, and Oshawa) did the NDP come close to winning, and could realistically hope to win next election. So even if a Toronto leader could boost support, it would hardly mean a new avalanche of seats coming the NDP's way. Additionally, almost nothing the NDP could do, with or without a Toronto leader, would change the NDP from remaining a joke in the GTA West.

"They have the north pretty well solidified, and they've had Howard Hampton representing the north,'' he said.

Now this is simply not true. The NDP performs well up north, and Hampton being a regional star helps, but again, lets look at the numbers: While 3 additional GTA seats are up for grabs by the NDP, the North has 4 seats in which the NDP have a good shot in (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Timiskaming—Cochrane, Algoma—Manitoulin, and Thunder Bay—Superior North). So if the possibilities for growth in the North for the NDP are greater, why suddenly become Toronto-centric?

I've heard a few names tossed around as potential NDP leaders, so far with a definate Toronto centricness to them, most commonly Di Novo, Prue, Tabuns, with various NDP MP's from Toronto tossed in sometimes. While I am not going to endorse him, simply because I am not a Dipper, I would like to suggest that perhaps the MP for my riding when I am at school, Paul Dewar of Ottawa Centre, might be a good candidate. As foreign affairs critic, he has a decently high profile (as high as any of the other NDP MPP candidates save Di Novo have), has a good background for the NDP, and has not been a terrible MP. He could bridge the gap between the union/working class element of the party, and the urban activist element, as Ottawa Centre has a large white collar union population, (a population the NDP needs to get a stranglehold on) and as he has a background in the federal NDP, is completely removed from the Bob Rae image (particularly as his job as NDP foreign affairs critic requires competing with Rae, who holds the same critic's position.)

Obvious problems would be his lack of a seat, as Ottawa Centre is currently Liberal held provincially, but he could be parachuted into some other seat until the next election, and besides, parachuting is in his blood (His mother, Marion Dewar, was the Mayor of Ottawa, but was elected as an NDP MP in Hamilton Mountain). However, assuming he would want to run in Ottawa Centre in an election proper has a few problems, firstly being that the riding borders McGuinty's Ottawa South, and NDP's activists might be cool towards elected a leader who probably would be unable to win any other seats in the area, and secondly, as someone who worked on his campaign, Yasir Naqvi puts up a tough fight, and thirdly, Ontario Liberals know how to beat a non-incumbent party leader in his own riding.

Overall though, I think Dewar might be the best candidate for the job, so I guess this post can be seen as a lukewarm endorsement.

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