Peggy Nash announces candidacy for NDP leadership
Oct 28, 2011

Peggy Nash announces candidacy for NDP leadership

Peggy Nash, the NDP incumbent for my riding of Parkdale-Highpark and the candidate I voted for, has just announced that she is running to be the next NDP leader. I wanted to share my thoughts on her announcement and recall some previous comments I have made about her.

Reading her announcement address, two things stand out. Firstly, she makes several somewhat lengthy endorsements of the Occupy Wall Street movement:
"But on the other hand there’s all the hope, the energy, the appetite for reform, for engagement.  The Arab Spring spreads to Wall Street spreads to St. James Park here in Toronto and communities across the country.
I’ve spoken to those gathered at St. James Park.  Their commitment is inspiring. Theirs are not vague and unfocused concerns.  They arise from very real crises that every one of us is facing.  Crises of social injustice, of wild inequality.  Crises of the ninety nine percent versus the one percent."
I think it is quite admirable that politician not just express their solidarity with the movement but to make it the first major issue they take on in their announcement address to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Secondly, she makes a largely economic message. It is well known that the economy has been the dominate political issue for some time now and, further, there is a perception - a false one in my view - that the NDP would be bad stewards of the economy and one needs instead the hands of the Liberals or the Conservatives. Addressing that there is a need for a change of perception that the NDP can be excellent stewards of the economy and, moreover, that given her experience Peggy Nash is the one to do it, could be a successful campaign strategy.

While I ended up voting for her in the general election, I had some reservation after attending a debate for the riding of Parkdale-Highpark:
Peggy Nash, the NDP candidate and former MP in this riding, was also fairly good. I agreed with a lot of what she said. However, she was sticking very close to the party line, speaking of Layton often, and phrasing both her substantive policies and attacks in a way that was strikingly consistent with the party line. I believe that Gerard Kennedy - who has previously run for Liberal party leadership - demonstrated that he could reform the Liberal party and change the framing of discussion within it while Peggy Nash demonstrates that she is a representative of the homogenized NDP message without offering substantive changes to that platform. I was also disappointed at Peggy Nash's persistent attacks on the voting record issue. (see the rest of the debate commentary here)
I fully recognize that a successful tactic for a MP candidate - especially for NDP candidates to whom Jack Layton generally polled higher than his party - may be to stick to a homogeneous party line. It thus doesn't preclude the fact that she could be an excellent leader, her debate performance merely says that she didn't demonstrate any party transforming leadership during this particular debate. However, she will have to bring a clear differentiating message to the table if she wishes to have success, especially since appeals to Jack Layton's message is going to be dominated by Brian Topp who was so close to him.

It is also worth noting that Peggy Nash has long had very strong ties to the union movement in Ontario (going back to work with unions when she lost one election cycle to Gerard Kennedy). I am typically somewhat on the side that the NDP needs to move away from being such a union based party and getting broader appeal if it wants to be successful. For instance, I am glad that Thomas Mulcair and others pushed to finally eliminate the 25% union vote in the leadership contest. Peggy Nash thus also has the burden of proof on her that she can bring this broader appeal and not be a union based candidate.

Ultimately, judgement will be reserved until a clearer indication of her platform is presented. 

Thoughts on this post? Comment below!

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Ty said...

Mulcair did not push to have the union voting block removed. That was decided years ago at a convention, prior to Mulcair being involved in the NDP.

bazie said...

Yes there was a decision back in 2006 for a move to OMOV however there was lots of debate on both sides about whether the full 25% or some other solution would be back on the table for this convention. It was certainly not inevitable and Topp and Mulcair came down on opposite sides of the issue.
The decision is a victory for NDP House Leader Thomas Mulcair, who had argued against the plan to set aside a portion of the vote for unions at next year’s leadership convention. Mr. Mulcair said he encouraged union members to participate in the leadership contest, but that all progressives, such as members of the environmental movement, had to be treated equally.
On the other hand, NDP president Brian Topp, who currently leads ACTRA in Toronto, had argued for a continued role for unions in the leadership contest. Mr. Topp called the labour movement “a foundational partner” of the NDP and said ties to unions were part of the party’s DNA."

Anonymous said...

Peggy Nash brings a lot of confidence, but not any real solutions. I don't think that anyone has any real solutions at this point to the financial crisis.I have seen her in public meetings when she was a backbench MP with a fourth party. She has no business experience and has never had to meet a payroll, while she is very good at asking for money on behalf of her labour union members. At the same time, private sector employees are 17% unionized, so the union movement is totally irrelevant to them, particularly with its support for radical social reform. Government is becoming less relevant for many Canadians, as taxes go up and services go down(the pie is not getting larger, but it is being divided between more people). That is one reason fewer people vote.

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