Sunday, 4 December 2011

Canada's New Democrats Leadership Hopefuls First Debate

The New Democratic Party  had an unprecedented success during Canada's federal election in May of this year.  The party overtook the Liberal Party as the official opposition.  While most of the gains were in Quebec, it has realigned the party to attempt a run at government in the next election.  Shortly after the election, the NDP's popular leader Jack Layton died and this has set off a frenzy of those vying for the leadership of the party.   The first of six leadership debates will take place today broadcast on the CTV Newschannel at 2:00 pm EST.   The new leader will be chosen on March 24th. 

The debate for the nine candidates will be conducted over two hours, with the first hour in English and the second hour in French.  All nine candidates are bilingual.  

Ottawa MP Paul Dewar, Toronto MP Peggy Nash, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Former Party President Brian Topp, Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair and Nova Scotia MP Robert Chisholm will be on stage along with MP Romeo Saganash, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen and Nova Scotia businessman Martin Singh.

The New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party evolved from the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which was a movement that emerged from Saskatchewan. The newly formed Canadian Labour Congress started negotiating with the CCF in 1956 to bring about a merger of the organized labour and the political left. In 1961 the New Democratic Party emerged, led by former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas. The present interim leader of the Party is Nycole Turmel. The party's popular leader Jack Layton passed away on August 22, 2011. The Party holds 103 of 308 seats in Parliament and is the official opposition.  Canadian Political Parties

The subject of today's debate will be the economy.  With Europe's debt crisis and the potential collapse of the global economy, it will be interesting how far left the NDP's approach to solving the economic woes will be.  Not unlike the left wing of the Democratic Party, the NDP believes that the government is the solution to most problems.   Europeans and Americans have pretty well determined that the problem has been excessive spending.  So this debate should prove to be interesting.   Hopefully the media does not give the potential leaders a free ride.

With little time to answer questions, about one minute per candidate, the outcome could be similar to the GOP Presidential debate and the frontrunners could change frequently between now and May.  If the debate accomplishes one thing, it must attempt to appeal to Canadian West of the Quebec border.  Expect most of the candidates attacking the policies of the governing Conservatives and not so much each other.  Ideologically the candidates are on the same sheet.   Their vision for Canada and its implementation may vary slightly. 

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