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Some more thoughts on Mulcair and the Convention in general

After a day and a night of digesting what I saw at the NDP Convention, some thoughts on what I saw and heard:

– I’ve heard some say that Mulcair will charged as being an “opportunist” because he’s been associated with or had flirtations with other parties. As Susan Delacourt points out, he isn’t the only current party leader that’s done that – Harper in particular has done a fair bit of moving around. As well, I don’t know that anyone had a crystal ball back when he won that said working as an MP in Quebec (or trying to get elected) would be considered an “opportunistic move” – maybe career ending, at that point. He made that point himself with Mansbridge last night; expect him to repeat it often.

– Others say that Mulcair’s temper will get the better of him. That was said of Stephen Harper too, but he learned to control it (for the most part) in public. We’ll see whether Mulcair can (or even if he can’t whether the public might like a bit of fire).

– Mulcair is viewed as a centrist or a moderate NDP’er; hence the attack on him (ill-timed and to little avail) from Ed Broadbent last week. Will that pose a challenge for the Liberals as my Liberal blogging colleague Steve thinks? Maybe. As I said last night, what will hurt him more is if he tries to read or do prepared speeches as the one he read last night. He seemed more comfortable in the interviews; and it’s his advisers/handlers job to try and carry that level of comfort over from the one-on-one to the group speech.

-The voting issues last night was an interesting side-issue that threatened to overwhelm the news.. with a twist thrown in about the delays caused by Denial Of Service (DOS) attack claims from the NDP. They say they have isolated some IP addresses as the root cause for these attacks.. so I await with interest what they produce. If it was indeed a DOS attack that caused all the delays, the criticism of this will be muted slightly, but they need some proof to show us all that the messup wasn’t from them not investing enough money in server equipment or bandwidth.

– The other thing I wanted to address was the NDP voting turnout. Mulcair in the final ballot got almost 33 800 votes, or 57.2%. Total vote then was around 60 000 or so, give or take. Total NDP-eligible voters was 130 000 or so, from what I read, pre-Convention. You don’t need me to tell you that the number of eligible NDP members that decided to decline a vote in this is very very high. That’s not intended as a knock on the NDP, by the way – I applaud their attempt to get more members involved with online voting and one member one vote and so forth – but it worries me that turnout to elect a new leader to replace a popular icon in Jack Layton came up with this type of non-participation. Remember, these are folks that are members of a political party – supposedly the most actively interested in participating in Canadian politics. It worries me greatly about the overall health of our political system in general; we’ve a situation here where every attempt was made to accommodate party members to participate – and a large chuck declined. You can’t blame that all on “voting issues” either. There was more then ample opportunity to mail-in the ballot. It’s a microcosm of declining voter participation in general in this country. If we can’t get members of a political party to vote in large #’s to pick their new leader, then trying to get the rest of the voting public to participate in democracy is going to be more daunting then I thought.

EDIT: I will also apparently have to remember how to spell Mulcair’s name right (1 l – not 2)

4 comments to Some more thoughts on Mulcair and the Convention in general

  • Roll Tide

    Western Grit:
    “You make very good points about the decline of public interest in voting (the NeoCon plan is succeeding)”. Bizarre point you made, blame Harper for lack of interest in the NDP.

    However the turnout was revealing, considering they had two weeks to send in the ballot, plus online voting. These are your hardcore supporters, and only half were motivated to vote.

    “Others say that Mulcair’s temper will get the better of him. That was said of Stephen Harper too, but he learned to control it (for the most part) in public. We’ll see whether Mulcair can (or even if he can’t whether the public might like a bit of fire)”

    Temper issues are overstated. Mulroney, Trudeau, Harper, McCain, Chretien, Hillary Clinton……all had tempers. The public expects some passion.

  • Your point on turnout for the leadership vote is one I find of considerable import. I mean we are talking about a party that traditionally has strongly motivated party members with strong activist tendencies which for the first time has made it to the Official Opposition level with even the possibility of electing the next PM in this vote getting at most half their eligible voters turning out despite the multiple methods to vote is a little disturbing. If this, the traditionally most activist party is seeing this level of disengagement it speaks volumes for just how bad the political environment has become in this country overall, which is good for none of us. I mean I was always used to being a bit of an odd duck being as politically interested as I am without actually being a supporter/member of one party, but this is really a sign of just how unhealthy Canadian political culture has truly become, and we are all the poorer for it.

  • ben burd

    spell his name right MULCAIR

  • WesternGrit

    You make very good points about the decline of public interest in voting (the NeoCon plan is succeeding). If you also consider that the NDP did lots of Facebook ads, and Google ads, as well as using other media – to get membership numbers up, you REALLY have to re-consider the “broad appeal” for membership, and the type of quality volunteers and members it actually brings in. It’s fine to get people fired up over an issue and support you on that. It’s quite another to have them join your party and be an active member – when they have no interest.

    I like social media ads (have run them myself – to great success – in municipal campaigns), but the OLD-FASHIONED, hard-working, method of getting out in your neighborhood, club, or bar/coffee shop, and pressing the flesh to meet new members/volunteers/voters, and convincing them of your character and ideals is STILL the best way to grow a party. If I can’t see the face of the person “recruiting” me, I’m far less likely to trust the source. This factor can be used in social media campaigns – you just need to focus on the way the ad is made up.

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