Opinion Column

Provincial losses an opportunity for federal NDP

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair.       (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Thomas Mulcair. (REUTERS/Chris Wattie)

How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress” — Niels Bohr, Danish physicist

While New Democrats cry in their beer in Nova Scotia after last week’s stunningly disastrous election fall from power to third place, and in British Columbia after blowing a “sure thing” election, federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair might want to drink champagne.

Despite this loss of party allies, the NDP nationally almost always suffers in provinces run by NDP governments.

Indeed, the paradox of provincial power means Mulcair’s NDP Members of Parliament in B.C. and Nova Scotia just saw their seats get a lot safer in the 2015 federal election.

The evidence? Look back to the watershed 1988 federal election in B.C., fought over the Free Trade Agreement with the United States brought in by Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney.

The NDP took 19 of B.C.’s then 32 seats, leaving the Conservatives with 12 and the Liberals just one.

In 1991, when the BC NDP took power provincially under Mike Harcourt, the federal NDP went into a steep decline.

The 1993 federal election saw the NDP devastated in B.C., dropping from 19 seats to just two.

The next federal election in 1997 came with then-NDP premier Glen Clark in power for a year — and the national party claiming only three seats in B.C.

The 2000 federal vote occurred with unpopular ex-NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh polling in the low 20% range — and just two NDP MPs were elected.

But once the BC NDP was demolished provincially in 2001, the federal fortunes quickly improved. The national NDP took five seats in 2004, doubled that to 10 in 2006, nine in 2008 and won 12 in 2011.

If B.C. is any example, the federal NDP would have been similarly disadvantaged in Nova Scotia by the unpopular provincial government led by NDP premier Darrell Dexter that was trounced Oct. 8, dropping from 31 seats to just seven and into third party status after only one four-year term.

Regardless of the reasons behind the paradox, it’s unequivocal that the federal NDP may have dodged two bullets in 2015’s election by seeing its provincial wings in B.C. and Nova Scotia relegated to opposition, not government.

Read more at billtieleman.blogspot.com Email: mailto:weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman





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