Sunday, 4 December 2011

NDP Leadership Debate - Was it really a Debate or a Policy Forum?

The NDP first leaders' debate, hosted by CTV News Channel,  introduced the NDP leadership candidates for the first time to the Canadian public.  On the stage were, 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.

All of them agreed on affordable housing, healthcare, environment.  Brian Topp used a little more of a pragmatic approach and advocates that not only does the NDP have to demonstrate what it will do, but also how to do it.   Topp asserted that the NDP can't win an election without doing both. 

The general impression, and all candidates seemed to be on the same page,  they advocated green energy initiatives, including a green grid.   Cap and Trade was mentioned by most candidates, including getting fossil fueled cars out of Canadian cities.  It could have been the top of the agenda of the Green Party.  More government involvement in Canadians lives was also advocated.

Like the Obama Administration they talked about the inequality in the tax system and that the folks on the top should pay their fair share.  Most of the policies advocated more spending, without any of the candidates proposing how this would be paid for, other than taxing the rich.   They pointed to provincial governments to point out that the NDP could manage the economy.

In almost every case they spoke of government intervention.   As an observer I came away with the fact that the markets should not be permitted to operate without government intervention.  It smells of more regulations that would, in my humble opinion, stifle economic growth.

The candidates kept pointing to Europe as an example, well we know where Europe is financially.   Overall no candidate stood out.  If the debate was to point out the failures of the Conservative government to their followers, they succeeded.   While discussing how the Harper government is dividing Canadian society, it seems that dividing the country between the rich and not so rich is a direct copy of Obama's strategy. 

The debate pointed out the progressive agenda of the New Democrats, with all of the candidates on the same page.   Unfortunately, there was no real debate amongst the candidates.  It sounded more like a love in than a debate.   The only minor clash was between Brian Topp and Paul Dewar regarding electricity.   When Dewar talked about a national grid, Topp asked him how to pay for it. 

If the NDP wants to win the hearts and minds of Canadians for their progressive agenda, there needs to be an influx of original ideas and not more of the same old.  In other words, don't tell us what Harper is doing wrong, but tell us what you will do and how it will be paid for.  Convince us that you will not break the bank.  

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