Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This time, Jack Layton Should Talk To Elizabeth May

Jack Layton has been a reasonably good leader for the NDP, if only because he has brought the kind of energy and forceful presence to the national stage that Ed Broadbent said that he would. But if he wants the NDP to challenge the Bloc Quebecois for third place--much less challenge the Liberals--he needs to soften his attitude towards Greens on the Left and social liberals on the right. Rumour has it that before Elizabeth May approached Stephane Dion , she approached Jack Layton with the idea of not running candidates in a pair of ridings (i.e. allowing the other party's leader to run unopposed by their party). Layton rebuffed her, saying the NDP was Canada's green party and that all 308 ridings would have NDP candidates.

But with May now taking aim at Gary Lunn, the NDP should ask whether it also has a strategic riding that could benefit from vote-swapping with the Greens. Until we get some degree of proportional representation (or some kind of Democratic Party of Canada is formed out of a merger of the NDP, Greens and Quebec progressives) this may be the best way out of the current vote-splitting impasse.

{P.S. Note the comment on this blog by Julian West at http://www.facebook.com/n/?note.php&note_id=129904416591&comments&mid=110e12aG26c845ebG28d3995Gd }.

Mr. West is correct in saying that the NDP should not simply allow a one-for-one seat swap, which would permit the Greens to split the progressive vote all over Canada as well as getting a clear run at Gary Lunn. Since the Greens only have an outside chance of winning a single seat, while the NDP has a corresponding chance of winning 40-60 seats, the NDP should offer to support Elizabeth May solely on the condition that the Greens step down in at least a dozen seats that are potentially winnable by the NDP.

There should be a focused, pragmatic, achievable goal for this election, which is to be able to form a stable minority government (LIberal or NDP) without Bloc Quebecois support. The Greens and NDP could then extract a green social contract for change that would spare people another election for at least two years.

P.S.S. Current party standings are Conservative 143; Liberal 77; Bloc 48; NDP 36; Independent 1 and 3 vacant. Liberals plus NDP need 30 seats between them to unseat the Tories and an additional 12 seats to gain an over-all majority and obviate the support of the Bloc. Since the ideal result would be about 30 seat gain for Liberals and 15 for the NDP, the Greens should offer to step down in approximately that same number of ridings in exchange for Liberal and NDP support for May in Saanich and the Islands. (A deal with the Liberals as well as the NDP, while extremely unlikely, would be sweet.)


kirbycairo said...

While I agree that such vote swapping is a good idea here, I disagree with your assumption that the Green Party is to the left of the NDP. Though the Greens tend to hold fairly liberal social views and on some national issues such as healthcare, their inherent belief that market forces can solve problems that were created by the market in the first place suggests to me that they can by no means be considered left of the NDP.

Mark Crawford said...

Fair enough comment. I use the term "left" rather loosely and advisedly.