It’s early August in political Ottawa before the Fall election and folks let me tell ya; it’s quiet. Having just come back east from a few weeks away at home seeing family and spending time by the water, I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. While doing that, it quickly became clear just how quiet things are on this front, which makes sense. The federal campaign won’t come for over another month, and the parties are getting ready. And being the summer time, everyone’s focus is not on the campaign to come.
Fact is most of the action is not here in the Nations Capital at the moment and that won’t change until probably the middle of September. But in the meantime that gives those of us who observe these things and speak on them an interesting task; what to talk about? Well in the most practical sense, talking about party nominations makes the most sense. These are the people who will be carrying their parties’ banners, knocking on doors, potentially creating the next scandals we’ll talk about here and in the end, could be among the 338 MPs in the 43rd Parliament of Canada.
With that in mind I wanted to point to two pieces of nomination news I came across, starting with another big nomination get for the New Democrats in a place that many probably didn’t expect:
Similar to last weeks news about the nominations of Chief Rudy Turtle and Breen Ouellette to run for the Orange team in this campaign, the decision of Beatrice Hunter to seek the NDP nomination in Labrador of all places is potentially big. Hunter is known for her opposition to the Muskrat Falls damn project, even serving 10 days in jail for her peaceful protests. At a point when many would have quit and walked away after being disappointed by different governments, she’s decided to take the same path of Chief Turtle, Ouellette and other Indigenous peoples in this election.
As the CBC story on this points out, Hunter sees running for office as “an option to continue peaceful and non-violent opposition to the project”. I’ve said many times here on this blog that one of the open questions in this election campaign is what Indigenous peoples will do with their votes, after being energized in 2015. Would they stay home? Would they vote Liberal or for another party? In my view, this is one of the big narratives to play out in this campaign. With developments like these we’re getting a better idea of what might be happening in that case. Labrador is a riding that could be competitive for the NDP, where they have some history provincially and a place where they just elected an MHA in the Spring. Having a candidate like Hunter on the ballot could put that seat in play and make it a very interesting race to watch. This is good news for the Orange team for sure.
Another nomination story that caught my eye comes from Montreal and the riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, presently represented by Liberal Cabinet Minister Mélanie Joly. This story is about the Bloc Québécois nomination there and the people there seeking it:
The whole idea of a Parizeau/Duceppe nomination contest is one that surely brings back memories of the 90’s for many people, but this story goes beyond the relatives of two of Quebec’s biggest political names trying to win a shot at unseating a Trudeau minister. There is a whole other layer here that made me chuckle. As La Presse points out, until very recently André Parizeau was the leader of the Quebec Communist Party. He stepped down right before going after the nomination, stating on the record that he “wanted to avoid any ambiguities”. Insert your own joke here.
Naturally this has brought some questioning and attacks. Gilles Duceppe himself, the cousin of the nomination Anne Duceppe, is quoted in the piece questioning Parizeau’s loyalty to the Bloc, questioning how you could be a member of another party and still support the Bloc. This is very rich on his party given his own political history; La Presse points out that Duceppe himself was a member of the Communist Party and the Marxist-Leninists before joining the Bloc. Oops, how’s that contradiction for you. Oh and then Parizeau attacked his opponent Anne Duceppe for being a parachute candidate. This is starting to sound like something straight out of Monty Python.
For a party that’s trying to rebuild from nearly fatal infighting in this Parliament, surely a debate around whose communist past is worse and how loyal they are to their party or riding isn’t going to help. The fact that this is one of the few stories we’ve seen come out about Bloc nominations too can’t be good for them. But for the rest of us, this is story is a bit of a dumpster fire that you really can’t help but rubberneck at while reading.