Are the NDP on the wane?

In a week when the NDP was already mourning the defeat of an icon at the hands of Toronto voters, the sole New Democrat provincial government in the country was flirting with implosion. With his ruling party sinking in the polls, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger has a cabinet rebellion on his hands. Until further notice, there is a death-watch on his leadership.

In a week when the NDP was already mourning the defeat of an icon at the hands of Toronto voters, the sole New Democrat provincial government in the country was flirting with implosion.

With his ruling party sinking in the polls, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger has a cabinet rebellion on his hands. Until further notice, there is a death-watch on his leadership.

The failure of Olivia Chow’s mayoralty bid and the free-falling popularity of the Manitoba New Democrats are only the latest items on a long list of NDP woes.

Just last week, former New Democrat MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis finished a poor second in Winnipeg’s mayoral election. She lost by more than 50,000 votes despite going in the campaign with a sizable lead.

But the party’s troubles are not limited to the municipal scene. Going from west to east, the NDP landscape outside Quebec is a picture of desolation.

In British Columbia, the party failed to end a decade in opposition last year, finishing second in an election that had been its to lose.

In the wake of that fourth consecutive provincial defeat, former B.C. premier Michael Harcourt quit the party, castigating it for not being ready to govern.

In Alberta, the federal NDP has come fourth behind the Conservatives, the Liberals … and the Green Party in two of the last three byelections held in that province.

In the former NDP heartland of Saskatchewan, a skeleton New Democrat crew made up of only nine opposition members faces the most popular premier in the country.

After seven years, Brad Wall is still at the top of the provincial chart.

In Ontario, the NDP lost its leverage at Queen’s Park when the Liberals were re-elected to a majority last spring.

With revolt brewing in some quarters of her party, leader Andrea Horwath faces a mandatory leadership review next month.

The loss last July of Chow’s federal seat compounded the party’s Toronto rout in the provincial election.

There was little in the results of Monday’s municipal vote to suggest an imminent improvement in NDP fortunes in Canada’s metropolis.

In Atlantic Canada, the picture is even more dispiriting.

Nova Scotia voters ousted the NDP from power last fall after just one mandate. The party fell back to third place and incumbent premier Darrell Dexter lost his seat.

The New Brunswick NDP remained shut out of the legislature in last month’s provincial vote and leader Dominic Cardy resigned after failing to win his riding.

That same election saw the Green Party make history when its leader, David Coon, was elected.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael survived a leadership challenge last spring but lost two of her five members to her Liberal opposition rivals in the process.

In almost every instance, the Liberals have been the beneficiaries of the NDP’s failure to thrive.

The provincial numbers tell the story. Today there are 119 New Democrats sitting in the country’s provincial legislatures against 279 Liberals.

Even when Quebec, where the NDP does not run provincially, is taken out of the mix, the provincial Liberals outnumber their New Democrats counterparts by a margin of almost two to one.

And while the mayoralty bids of former front-line federal NDP MPs foundered in Winnipeg and Toronto this month, some of their Liberal ex-colleagues fared better, notably in Vaughan and Mississauga.

A steady string of setbacks was not what Canada’s New Democrats expected in the wake of Jack Layton’s historic Quebec breakthrough in the 2011 federal election.

They figured the party’s elevation to the high profile role of official Opposition in the House of Commons and the advent of a caucus that was national in more than name for the first time ever truly would result in some sort of a halo effect on the party and its brand across the country.

Early fears that Quebec would turn into a poison pill for party unity or that the province would prove fickle in its affections have since turned out to be unfounded. But so has the notion that the 2011 orange wave was the precursor of a pro-NDP shift in Canada’s tectonic plates.

Chantal Hébert is a syndicated Toronto Star national affairs writer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read