B.C. NDP loss impact wide

No New Democrat anywhere in the country can afford to brush off Tuesday’s upset defeat in British Columbia.

No New Democrat anywhere in the country can afford to brush off Tuesday’s upset defeat in British Columbia.

That starts with those who toil at Ontario’s Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill.

Ontario’s Andrea Horwath and Thomas Mulcair really needed British Columbians to lead by example by handing the reins of their province to the NDP.

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix’s campaign was supposed to provide the template for Horwath and Mulcair’s own bids for government. Once in power, it was hoped that he would showcase the New Democrats’ ability to manage a major provincial economy.

The NDP has yet to win power in any of the four big provinces in this century.

Like his Ontario and federal counterparts, Dix had spent the pre-writ period smoothing the edges of his party and it seemed that it would to pay off.

Few NDP leaders have ever entered an election campaign with as big a lead as Dix had when the B.C. writ was dropped last month.

His strategy borrowed heavily from Jack Layton’s 2011 recipe.

As an aside, it makes matters worse for the New Democrats that the masterminds in charge of the B.C. campaign were the same people who had earned bragging rights by bringing the party to the major role of official Opposition in the House of Commons in the last federal election.

Instead of mapping out a safe path to power for 21st-century New Democrats, Layton’s former chief strategist, Brian Topp, and his acolytes ended up highlighting the daunting roadblocks that stand in their way.

Like Layton in 2011, Dix spent the campaign on the high road. There he was exposed to relentless Liberal attacks on the economic competence of his party.

In the end, even as they had consistently craved change for more than two years, a sufficient number of British Columbians could not find it in themselves to hand over the reins to the NDP.

It does not take a big leap of imagination to think that one could be treated to a replay of the same scenario federally in two years. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have already been practising the same lines on Mulcair that Christy Clark successfully used on Dix. The federal Liberals will also be gunning for the NDP on the economy.

In B.C. on Tuesday, the anti-NDP vote coalesced around Clark. The reverse was not true of the anti-Liberal vote. In that, there is another ominous message for Mulcair. In fact it is the second time in six months that British Columbian voters deliver the same warning to the New Democrats.

In dismissing the notion that the division of the opposition vote could doom their efforts to win power federally, the New Democrats may well be whistling past what stands to become the cemetery of their governing ambitions.

The federal New Democrats got a first taste of the negative impact of federal Green Leader Elizabeth May’s popularity on its prospects when it narrowly hung on to the riding of Victoria in a byelection last fall.

That impact stands to be compounded by the presence on the forefront of world-renowned climate change expert Andrew Weaver. He will be the first Green member to take a seat in the provincial legislature in Victoria.

Mulcair already has to juggle a double challenge in Quebec where both Justin Trudeau and his reinvigorated Liberals and the Bloc Québécois have to be kept at bay. Mulcair’s effort to bind nationalist voters to the NDP in his home province have so far come at a cost to his credibility elsewhere in Canada.

He faces an equally difficult balancing act in B.C. — one that caused Dix much grief over the past month. Early on in the B.C. campaign, the NDP sacrificed precious ground in the larger economic battle against the Liberals when it hardened its anti-pipeline stance to preserve itself from the Greens.

On what can only be a national day of political mourning for the NDP, its brain trust is headed back to the drawing board where a disquietly blank page awaits it.

Chantal Hébert is a syndicated Toronto Star national affairs writer.

Just Posted

Red Deer woman one of three arrested by Sundre RCMP

The 19-year-old had numerous arrest warrants out of various jurisdictions

Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

School leader named Red Deer Young Citizen of the Year

Leading by example at Hunting Hills High School

Suspects shot at pursuing police during crime spree

No police officers were injured in May 17 shooting

Mental health survey looks at children and youth in Red Deer

Parent and guardians experiences accessing services for children

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Police hunt suspect after explosion in French city of Lyon

LYON, France — French police on Saturday hunted a suspect believed to… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $32 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $32 million jackpot… Continue reading

Girl, 13, charged in two alleged assaults in Saskatoon park

SASKATOON — Police in Saskatoon say they have charged a 13-year-old girl… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Premier Legault to force the Caisse to purchase REM trains made in Quebec

MONTREAL — Premier Francois Legault says his government will force the Caisse… Continue reading

Security forces mistakenly kill 6 civilians in Afghanistan

KABUL — An Afghan security forces raid against Taliban fighters in eastern… Continue reading

After half-century of frustration, Blues can exorcise demons

ST. LOUIS — Stanley Jackson and buddy Steven Crow can be excused… Continue reading

Most Read