Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RE: If you hate Conservatives, you should love Nathan Cullen

Dear Progressive Canadians,


I’d like to take this blog post to fully explain to Canadians (and hopefully open-minded New Democrats) that NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen is the best situated to end the Harper government. His co-nomination plan is an almost guaranteed method of ousting the tyranny the Harper Conservatives have inflicted upon the nation.

In his proposed plan, EDAs (electoral district associations) would be given the (democratic) option of co-nominating candidates with the Green Party and Liberals in Conservative-held ridings. To be clear, no EDA would be forced into this arrangement, and this plan also requires consent from the other parties’ EDAs.

The charge that this plan is anti-democratic in any way is ridiculous. Canadians do not have a right to vote for the party of their choosing as insinuated by other leadership candidates (for example here). If you don’t believe me, then why are there no Bloc Quebecois candidates outside Quebec, especially in Francophone New Brunswick? Canadians have the right to vote for their choice of duly nominated candidates. A New Democrat (or any other Canadian) has every right to run as an independent; we saw this materialize in the 2006 Churchill race that saw Niki Ashton run against disgraced former NDP MP Bev Desjarlais, who was removed from the caucus for opposing same-sex marriage. The Cullen plan is not strategic voting; it’s strategic nominating.

To decide who the co-nominated candidate would be, a joint Liberal-NDP-Green EDA meeting would be held, and a candidate would be democratically selected from the conglomerate pool. If local New Democrats believe the best candidate is within their ranks and that New Democratic ideals and ideas are the most salient to Canadians, they should have no problem recruiting the most members to vote at the joint-EDA meeting. This new process would create a major incentive for membership recruitment at the riding level, meaning more resources for the NDP available in 2015.

I’m a proud New Democrat, but I’m a Canadian first. The Cullen plan is the best chance we have at forming an NDP government that will end the misguided policies Harper continues to implement. 


7 comments:

Dylan said...

"His co-nomination plan is an almost guaranteed method of ousting the tyranny the Harper Conservatives have inflicted upon the nation."

It's also fraught with problems. Such as:

"If local New Democrats believe the best candidate is within their ranks and that New Democratic ideals and ideas are the most salient to Canadians, they should have no problem recruiting the most members to vote at the joint-EDA meeting."

There we go. You'd have divisive EDA meetings where Liberals, NDs and Greens would sell memberships based on their party colour & not necessarily the best candidate. My question is: Would the best candidate ACTUALLY win? Maybe.

Could a Green convince a room full of newly signed-up Dippers and Liberals that they are the best CANDIDATE (meaning they have the best resume for the job, live in the area, placed 2nd in the last campaign, etc., etc.)? Maybe... perhaps. But the INCENTIVE to drive up membership voting and to promise the moon for membership votes at the joint EDA meeting is too great: because if you win it's you vs. the Conservative incumbent -- at least in theory. What stops disgruntled nominees & their supporters from filling out papers to run as an independent candidate? There isn't one -- it's a policy based on good faith. And that isn't enough.


But members do so much more than just elect their candidate! If you were in an EDA meeting with a room STACKED full of Liberals and they said that their person was the best and out of sheer numbers alone they won the nomination -- would you campaign for this individual? Would you put up a Liberal sign? Would you go out and vote for them? If it was a Dipper in my riding, I might not. I might not vote AGAINST that person; but I might feel a bit robbed.

What WOULD be dramatic would be if Cullen actually said that as leader he wouldn't have NDP candidates in any EDAs held by Liberals & in Saanich-Gulf Islands. That would be something. It would clearly say "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

As a Liberal and active member in my EDA, his policy isn't convincing to me nor is it much of an olive branch. It might be good INTERNAL NDP politics, but there are very few active Liberals who are willing to go through a dog-fight of a joint-EDA nomination meeting with the NDP if they didn't think they'd win it -- and I'm willing to bet the same vice-versa.

D$$ said...

I think you assume everyone will vote along partisan lines. While I believe many would, I personally would have no problems nominating a Green or a Liberal who was demonstrably more qualified and bettter presented than an NDP. It's about a new way of doing politics; I guess you're just not ready for that. Unfortunately, it's the country that will suffer for ultra-partisan ignorance.

Dylan said...

"I personally would have no problems nominating a Green or a Liberal who was demonstrably more qualified and bettter presented than an NDP."

And there is the rub. Was Pierre-Luc Dusseault the most qualified of candidates in Sherbrooke? Hardly. And you can put him in with a whole bunch of QC NDP MPs. Are their candidacies safe? Apparently -- under the Cullen plan. Solely because of their party colour; the party they REPRESENT. And that's where it breaks down for me.

In Winnipeg we had MANY very qualified candidates from the Greens, NDs and LPC. In Calgary there are HORRIBLE CPC MPs who have 50% of the vote as it stands, and a three-way nomination meeting and a CPC vs. Progressive candidate system might not work in an election, let alone expose squabbling and badblood between LPC, NDP and GPC electoral district associations in the process.

A new way of doing politics would be a merger. Asking members of the NDP to put aside their historical and cultural differences w/ the LPC and extend the hand in cooperation. We worked well together w/ Douglas and Pearson, why not again on a permanent level?

The answer to that question is as telling as the collective response to Cullen's hypothetical joint-nominations: the NDP (the party insiders and worker-bees) do not want to concede their party to the LPC, and likewise, vice versa. A new way of doing politics, if Cullen was serious about cooperation while keepign the merger question at bay; would be to commit to extending cabinet posts to LPC MPs should the NDP form a minority gov't. But he's not campaigning to be co-PM -- he's campaigning to be the leader of an NDP majority government, and no one blames him for that nor do I blame him for extending the shortest of olive branches to the LPC in an attempt to show NDP insiders that he's "cooperative" w/ other parties without actually having to commit to giving up anything in the NDP in exchange for said cooperation.

TruthInLife said...

From both of your replies it seems obvious to me that you just don't understand what is being proposed here. This is *not* an olive branch to the LPC, this is *not* about partisan politics, and this is *not* about a merger. This proposal to allow riding associations to co-operate in certain CPC held ridings is just the first part in a bid to create an opportunity to change a broken voting system.

You seem content with arguing about side issues, some of which are very loosely associated with MP Cullen's proposal of co-operation. Why do you avoid the main issue in this argument? Furthermore, you seem to have this idea that people only vote along party lines. Perhaps that is something you and your friends do, but that is not always the case. I certainly cannot speak for all Canadians (as you have attempted to do), but of all the people I know, the vast majority of them vote for whoever they believe is the best candidate regardless of which party that candidate belongs to. Unless you plan on finding and referencing some facts backed by substantive research results about how many people actually vote for a candidate based solely on that candidate's party affiliation, please drop the partisan politics argument.

Now, to the heart of the matter; The current voting system in Canada does not work. As a glaring example: the current Harper lead conservative majority government that was not voted for by over 50% of Canadians. If they had more than 50% of the total votes cast, then yes, they would be right in claiming a mandate from the people. However, that is not the case, they got less than half of the total votes, it wasn't even close to half. So I ask you: If the current majority government does not have the support of even half of Canadians, how did they get a majority? So that is the real issue here and MP Cullen's proposal for progressive Canadians to co-operate to oust this current majority government in 2015 so that progressive Canadians (not just the NDP) can come together to fix a broken voting system.

Now, if you feel the current voting system is not broken, a system that allows for a party which has support from less than half of the country's citizens to become a majority government, and thus impose it's non-majority will over all of Canada, then please, continue arguing about this. But if you agree that the current system is broken and needs to be fixed, then instead of nit-picking on side issues about one MP's proposal to fix this system, why not be constructive and offer up other ways to go about fixing it. Trying to tear down the best idea put forth so far to fix this broken voting system by nit-picking on side issues without offering anything constructive is an exercise in futility and gets us nowhere.

So if you have a better idea, please present it along with your supporting arguments. If all you intend to do is try to tear down an idea that came from a MP who is not a member of your party after making it blazingly clear that you practice partisan politics, all you are doing is spinning your wheels in a flurry of smoke and noise, but getting nowhere.

Heather Tuite said...

If there are more people interested in joining the NDP than the Liberals (or the other way around, or the Greens) then that probably means that a NDP candidate would be the most elect-able candidate in that riding. Maybe that's a good test of who the candidate should be. It also shows who will have the most members to run their campaign.

Nathan makes it clear that the other parties would not be expected to campaign for the other. If a Liberal was chosen, the Lib members would campaign. If a New Democrat was chosen, the NDP members would campaign on an NDP platform.

Heather Tuite said...

"A new way of doing politics, if Cullen was serious about cooperation while keepign the merger question at bay; would be to commit to extending cabinet posts to LPC MPs should the NDP form a minority gov't"

Nathan's publicly said that he would form a coalition government with the Liberals if he had the opportunity. In that case the two parties would be sharing cabinet positions wouldn't they?

Dylan said...

TruthInLife your critique of my critique is not unwarranted. I'd like to point you to two studies on the impact of party banner versus individual candidate has on a voters e-day choice.

1. "Does the Local Candidate Matter" http://ces-eec.org/pdf/localcandidate.pdf (As a 2003 document, it is a bit dated and the political landscape has certainly shifted, but nonetheless it's a nice starting point.)

2. "Voter dealignment or campaign effects? Accounting for political preferences in Ontario" http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb009/is_4_36/ai_n29346300/?tag=content;col1 (It is a case study of Ontario, and while it does not translate perfectly onto a federal model, it does show valuable insights that can make for educated responses to questions concerning federal voting intentions."

Look, there is no argument that our voting system is skewed and that Harper has a false majority. No question. And any committment to electoral reform from ANY of the NDP leadership candidates would be welcome. I think it's something that many Liberals are concerned about and would push a future leader to consider backing. (Same goes w/ the Greens who everyone knows are in favour of MPP.)

You ask, "why not be constructive and offer up other ways to go about fixing it."

We can TRULY fix the system in a minority parliament consisting of the NDP, LPC and GPC. If the NDP or LPC reaches a majority government, I don't think either party would have the fortitude to knowingly give up majority power in the next election for a (permanent) minority parliament system. But that's the cynic in me.

Concerning real proposals, I've already made one that you apparently glazed over. Cullen should simply say every LPC held riding is hands off -- we won't run a candidate. Same with Elizabeth May's riding. That's cooperative, and you know what, it would ask the LPC to extend some courtesies as well -- to not run against the NDP in 35 ridings. A riding-swap agreement to concentrate more of our efforts against CPC seats! That's my proposal for cooperation.

Take Winnipeg South-Centre and Winnipeg-North.

Winnipeg South-Centre had a LPC incumbent of 12 years. As a door-knocker and volunteer, I know many Liberals voted Conservative in WSC because they wanted a majority government and an end to minority bickering. I get that! But I also know that there were New Democrats who said, we're not lending you our vote this time. Anita's % dropped by 5.2, NDP picked up % 5.7. Greens dropped 3.8 and the CPC increased their vote by a MEASLY 2.5% to win it.

Who came out better in the end? Not progressives.

Likewise, in Winnipeg North, the NDP sent in all the big-guns to try and un-seat Liberal Kevin Lamoureux who won it (an upset) in a by-election. Why fight against a Liberal incumbent when just down the road -- in Elmwood-Transcona -- everyone KNEW it was going to be a really tough battle between the CPC and NDP. The Cons ended up taking it from the NDP despite the Liberal vote being on a steady decline since 1993. I can tell you that from OUR end, there was 0 energy in Elmwood-Transcona. We put all our efforts into WSC, WN and (unfortunately) Winnipeg South and St. Boniface; ridings we have had historical support or incumbents.

Of course, this is anecdotal and you may not accept that. But what I'm saying is that Cullen's plan might look good to you - to New Democrats - but you are not making it a convincing sell to anyone else and you seemingly overlook some of the most glaring realities of life in on-the-ground politics and campaigning.

I look forward to your rebuttal on a riding-swap agreement.