Mandryk: Federal NDP squabbles may face horrific consequences | Regina Leader-Post
If the federal NDP loses party status in the House of Commons after the Oct. 21 vote — unthinkable a decade ago, but at least worthy of discussion now — fingers will be pointed at what’s gone on in Saskatchewan.
Certainly, the Erin Weir saga in Regina Lewvan speaks to a dysfunctional federal party lacking political organization, talent and focus and seemingly incapable of getting its internal affairs in order.
But these were problems in the making long before Jagmeet Singh … or Thomas Mulcair or even Jack Layton. That the NDP may lose party status is a bigger story of a party wandering aimlessly for so long it no longer has any idea where it’s going.
However, before we wander too far off path ourselves, let us recognize it’s only a remote possibility that the current 39-member federal NDP caucus will be reduced to less than the 12 seats required for party status. With 12 and 14 MPs, respectively, in B.C. and Quebec and pockets of support elsewhere in the country, it can be argued that there’s virtually no chance the NDP will fall that low.
That said, the Greens do seem to be on the march — even before the New Brunswick NDP defection fiasco, which has seen the emergence of Singh’s lack of electability in parts of this country as a visible minority. It’s wrong, but it is a sad reality and it’s quite possible the elephant-in-the-room issue of Singh as a visible minority may also hurt the NDP in a Quebec that propelled Layton and the NDP to its 103 seats in the 2011 election by electing 59 Quebec NDP MPs.
This is now added to last year’s drama over Erin Weir’s allegations of harassing behaviour that resulted in the Regina Lewvan MP’s removal from the caucus and the ensuing pushback from 67 veteran Saskatchewan New Democrats demanding Singh reconsider. Consider just how big a mess this party is right here in Saskatchewan.
Days before the writ is dropped, there remain only six NDP nominated candidates in this province’s 14 ridings — a problem playing out all over the country, but much more stunning in that it is also happening here.
While Saskatchewan’s 14 seats don’t exactly move the needle for any federal party (and in fact, it’s been three decades since the NDP even won the majority here), Saskatchewan remains the Mecca of the social democratic movement in Canada. As such, this province has always been much more to the NDP than a number of seats. It’s been a touchstone for NDP values that were traditionally a compromise between left-wing ideological goals and pragmatic acceptance of what voters would accept at any given time.
Weir’s 2015 success in Regina-Lewvan, along with victories in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River and Saskatoon West reclaimed an NDP foothold in Saskatchewan that had been lost since wins in the 2000 election. Such is the ongoing anger over Weir’s treatment by Singh that his seat — and perhaps even the two others in this province — are in serious jeopardy. Added to other problems, one quickly sees how the NDP federal caucus becoming a status-less rump is at least a possibility.
More so than other parties, the NDP has also needed to rely on the vision and ideals of its youth tempered by the experience of its veterans. Right now, this is a party lacking both, but it may be the petulant absence of the old guard that is the most problematic.
Rather than offer mentoring wisdom, the Weir mess suggests that what’s left of the NDP old guard has become a destructive force as it battles with its youth.
This was not how it was done in the past, when internal problems were kept in house and the laser focus was on the enemies in conservative or Liberal ranks. Today, one is as likely to hear past and present New Democrats aiming at each other — the result of a party that no longer has discipline, vision or focus.
Come Oct. 21, the consequences for the NDP could be dire.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.
This content was originally published here.