Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In Canadian politics the leader of a party sets the tone and direction of the political party. When there is no permanent leader the party is adrift and this is not good for Canadian politics.

The Conservatives are not choosing a new leader till May 27th 2017, 11 months from now and more than 18 months after Stephen Harper resigned.

The NDP is waiting even longer. The party will not have a new leader till October 2017 which is almost two years after the last election. The NDP has not even finalized the rules for their leadership race.

Without leaders for the two primary opposition parties there is very little serious parliamentary opposition to the Liberal government. A weak opposition makes for a weak government. Governments need a force within parliament that holds their feet to the fire.

More concerning about the leadership races is that because they are so long there are very few candidates in the race yet. Not only do the parties have no leader, they have no serious candidates to give anyone a sense of where the parties might be headed.

Among the Conservatives the gulf between the potential direcitons for the party are huge. The party could become very libertarian, socially conservative or Trump-like populist.  The Conservatives have three candidates so far but none of are ones I would call serious heavy weights.   The best known is Maxime Bernier and if he were to win the Conservatives would be a very different party than under Harper, it would be tending towards libertarianism.   

Among the NDP the leader will define if the party is a pragmatic social democratic party trying to be government or a significantly left of centre party that is there to raise issues but not govern.  At the moment there is a single candidate in the race, Cheri DiNovo.   If she were to win it would be a move to the left by the NDP.

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