Today has been a day so far, surely not the day many were expecting when it started this morning. Sometimes politics can be just like that, and things can come out of left field that you didn’t see coming and hit a bit harder than you would have expected. For an example of just that, I offer you this news breaking from this afternoon in New Brunswick:
Yeah, mama said there’d be days like these. Where to begin with this development from the East Coast? To start with, lets start with the basics; the New Brunswick NDP has long been a basket case of an organization and has never been able to find it’s footing. They’ve only ever elected a single MLA in history, and when the party had it’s most success under the leadership of Dominic Cardy, they thanked him for that by running him out of the leadership on a rail. Along with Cardy went a large amount of the party’s organizational talent and ability.
That helped to lead to their disastrously bad result in the last election, when for the first time in the provinces recent history more than 1 non-Liberal or Conservative MLA was elected. Yes three Greens and three People’s Alliance members were elected and not a single New Democrat came close. And that lead the party to the most recent embarrassment, where the only person running for the leadership of the party failed their candidate vet, so the leadership convention was cancelled.
So folks, THAT is the party these 14 former candidates quit from, 14 former candidates who mostly finished fifth place in their campaigns, far from ever having a chance of getting elected. In other terms, the resignation of these candidates would the equivalent of 14 former Liberal candidates from rural Alberta and Saskatchewan jumping ship to join the Greens. Simply put, that wouldn’t count for much at all.
Yet despite that context and those facts, there is something here that hurts. For starters is the resignation of the NDP’s National Executive from the province. That is a resignation that hurts and speaks loudly, because this person was elected into his place under Jagmeet Singh’s leadership. That’s not nothing and cannot be sluffed off as inconsequential.
What also hurts here is the one big fact laid down in these statements of resignation that jumps out at you when you see it; “NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hasn’t set foot in the province since winning the leadership back in 2017.” Think about that for a second folks; we are a month short of the second anniversary of Jagmeet Singh’s election as NDP leader and in those two years he’s never visited the province. That would make New Brunswick the only province in the country to be able to say that and that’s saying something. The comparison to Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s travel habits in the province isn’t the fairest, as her party has three MLAs in the province and the NDP have none. But to have not visited at all? Well that’s not acceptable for any leader and that’s a point that stings.
But looking upon this development from todays as a whole, this is a lot of old chickens coming home to roost. The fact is that the NDP has never had strong roots in New Brunswick and if it wasn’t for Yvon Godin, the party would have been absolutely nowhere in the province. New Brunswick has never been a focus for riding development in the party and has traditionally been far down the priority list of ridings for the Orange Team, even in the strongest times for the party. As a result, the time and resources have never been invested in growing the orange presence in the province and in the few times when they did make progress, internal infighting in the province snuffed that out.
And while the NDP took their resources and went elsewhere looking for support, the Greens saw a vacuum and stepped in to start to fill it. They elected one MLA, then three and now have given the Greens a platform to build off of. The Greens have done the exact same thing on Prince Edward Island, leaving the NDP nowhere while the Greens now sit as the Official Opposition. This all didn’t happen overnight and when you hear the rationale of these 15 defectors today, you can see it was years in the making.
It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and this punch to the gut would be delivered at the worst time. And yes folks, this is possibly the worst possible time for this to happen. This story will snuff out any potential good news from today’s campaign ad launch and will remind Canadians that the NDP doesn’t have a single candidate nominated in two of Atlantic Canada’s four provinces. These are not the signs of a party that is challenging for government and undercuts any good messaging that the party put out earlier today.
At any other time, news like todays from New Brunswick wouldn’t hurt so much at all but this isn’t any other time. This is potentially the worst time for news like this to come out and it shines a bright spotlight on organizational issues that are not emblematic of today; they are issues that started long before Jagmeet Singh became leader, but they are issues that he hasn’t improved upon. These are old chickens that have come home to roost, and their arrival couldn’t have come at the worst time.