Why The NDP Failed
As I’m sure you’re all aware, the results are now in, and the new governing party of Canada is the Liberal Party, headed by new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Early on in this election, many believed the NDP to be the frontrunner to win the most seats in the House of Parliament, but over time their popularity and poll numbers diminished, to the point where just before the election, they had essentially no chance of forming government.
So, why didn’t the NDP do as well as expected? Well, as with anything, it can initially be traced back to the very top. Once known as the man usually angry with the issues in our country, Tom Mulcair softened substantially over the course of the campaign in an attempt to gain approval amongst voters, but only succeeded in draining himself of any personality and substance he once had. Mulcair simply lacks the charisma and personality held by Trudeau, and wasn’t able to make himself heard effectively in the public sphere. At the MacLean’s and Globe and Mail National Leaders debates, he could speak coherently when given ample time uninterrupted, but when faced with rebuttal often rambled, and lost the powerful tone he previously spoke with.
Additionally, Mulcair had struggled to make himself as recognizable and visible as Trudeau even before the campaign began this year, though much of that comes from Trudeau’s name recognition due to his father’s achievements before him. Regardless, politics often comes down to a popularity contest, and if you can’t get your name out there, then how can people vote for you?
The policy of the NDP should not be ignored when analyzing their results in the election. While their policy on many issues such as Bill C-51, immigration, refugees, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership were appealing to many progressives, they simply didn’t do enough to distinguish themselves from the other major parties. Their economic policy of an immediate balanced budget can be seen as quite similar to the CPC’s, and many left-wing voters would support the modest deficit spending proposed by the Liberals, who would then balance the budget in year four once their spending has had time to be effective. This was the left wing’s election, and it’s clear that liberal Canadians indeed preferred the Liberal Party’s policies when it came time to cast their ballot.
The successes of the NDP in the last election and early on in this campaign may not have even been of their own merit at all. In 2011 the NDP won huge in Québec, an unforeseen victory in a traditionally Liberal province, and became the Official Opposition in place of the Liberals. However, it’s very possible that, like many Canadians, would-be Liberal voters (especially in Québec) soured on then-leader Michael Ignatieff, and decided to vote for their other left-wing option. This time around, the Liberal Party’s leader was a much more viable option for Prime Minister, and those same voters returned to their previous party in this election.
However, this doesn’t mean that the NDP lost through no fault of their own; they had a huge opportunity to win big in this election and form government for the first time ever, but ultimately squandered it through their inability to build on their momentum of 2011 and their early popularity in this campaign