New NDP leader and the Left

Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair is the new federal NDP leader with the conclusion of a two-day voting convention held in Toronto Mar. 23-24. He believes that Canada is challenged because of a “failure of leadership” and that the country’s progressives must be united under a political party. Considering how the Liberals have only had an interim leader since their electoral defeat, and how the NDP was without a leader for months following the death of Jack Layton, Mulcair is on track with his analysis but he must also prepare for the weight of representing Canada’s left, seeing how he is now the most centralized figure for federal liberal politics.

So far, Mulcair has indicated his concern for youth voters and the robocall scandal, but he has clarified his issues, which focused his opposition on the economy and manufacturing sector, stating “we’re killing our manufacturing sector and we’re leaving a triple whammy debt to future generations.” Much of Mulcair’s economic beliefs seem to stem from a “Dutch Disease” argument, whereby an influx of revenue from a natural resource, in this case Alberta’s oil sands, causes a rise in exchange rates with Canada’s “petro-dollar.” The result of this is that our exports become more expensive for other countries and the manufacturing sector, which is primarily based in Canada’s East coast, must move to a more profitable export-centre.

The development of the oil sands is expected to bring $2.6 trillion to Canada and create over 900,000 jobs in the next 25 years. While Mulcair’s concerns about the oil sands (economic, environmental) are valid, he must be careful with how he decides to address this issue and, in effect, the Conservative strongholds in Canada’s west coast. He doesn’t want to wind up labeling the entire left-wing as “anti-Alberta” by pursuing carbon emission taxes, like the Liberal party did with the National Energy Program, without ensuring that Albertans benefit primarily from their resource.

His rejection of a merger with Bob Rae’s Liberals is a sign that Mulcair intends to advance his own left-wing agenda. However, as mentioned above, there are many difficulties associated with this move and Mulcair needs to be aware that he may be alienating Canadians by being too ideological.

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