The problem with the NDP strategy in this election is that they tried to be something they are not: centrist. This may have sounded like a good idea two months ago, when they thought that simply by advertising a balanced budget they could appeal to the soft Liberals, even some soft Conservatives, and not offend their socialist base either. It sounded like having their cake and eating it too. Which rarely works.
However, it’s a long election campaign, and finally something came up to bite them. Two somethings.
I’ll give Tom Mulcair credit. He stands for what he stands for, and he will not back down, even to curry votes. Unlike a certain other leader we might mention (and have frequently). So when the niqab issue arose, he refused to take a stance counter to what he believed in, simply to kowtow to culturally biased Quebec voters. So his popularity is dropping in Quebec, exactly where and when he needs it the most.
He might be one of the few politicians recently who can say with rueful pride that he lost an election because he refused to stand down from his principles.
He will certainly not be the first politician to run afoul of the dichotomy that is the Quebec voter. Basically socialist, yes. But so determined to maintain the sanctity of their unique culture that they are willing to go to very undemocratic ends to protect it. A hard group to keep happy and speak with a straight tongue.
Trans Pacific Partnership
The other point where the NDP are caught between a rock and a hard place is the new trade treaty. I’m sure that the vast majority of Canadians understands that to stay out of a trade agreement of this size would be economic suicide. But, because of the possible impact on the auto and dairy industries, the NDP is forced to come out against the pact, thus blowing any chance they had for any “soft” vote, except perhaps the “soft in the head.”
Making Unpopular Choices
One of the most difficult responsibilities of government is to make choices between the good of the whole country and the good of a small portion of the population, with the possible outcome of losing the votes of that segment. In this case, a few industries must suffer in order that the whole country will benefit. Unfortunately, the hard left stance of the NDP does not allow them much wiggle room in this situation.
As I predicted from the beginning, the NDP tried to be something they are not, and now honesty forces them to reveal themselves for what they are. Credit to them for being honest, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into votes.