NDP convention in Quebec City this weekend part of dress rehearsal for next year’s federal election


The NDP’s Quebec wing is having its big shindig in la vielle capital (Quebec City) this weekend and yours truly is serving as Loonie Politics’ eyes and ears on the scene.  I am headed to the Convention as a media observer and will be reporting on what I see and hear to all you readers in the blogosphere.

The first thing you need to know is that every event no matter how small, held by the NDP or any other federal political party at this point is about scoring pre-election points with John and Jane voter.  Indeed, the NDP is moving full speed ahead with their pre-election campaign ever since last week’s well-timed media blitz on what was billed as a key plank in their next election platform, a federally administered nationally subsidized day care plan.  The strategy even got the thumbs-up from respected conservative codger Rex Murphy and Chantal Hébert!

But what issues will emerge as key in their chances for re-election as the majority party in Quebec (Léger marketing’s latest seems to indicate that they’re the party to beat) from this weekend’s possibly well-orchestrated talk-fest, and which issues will be ignore or glossed over?

For the answer to that we need to look at what the NDP’s put on the agenda for discussion and what was left off it.  Let’s begin with what you won’t see up for debate as a resolution or otherwise: The Quebec caucus defectors.  Just this week Jean François Larose (Répentigny) jumped ship for vague objections to his old party, and formed a new party Forces & Democratie (no English version yet, and I’m not holding my breath) with fellow defector, ex-Bloc Québecois MP Jean François Fortin.

Then there’s Sana Hassaina (Verchère-Les Patriotes) the NDP MP who ostensibly quit the party in a huff over its stance on Israel’s latest invasion of Gaza.  Of course, the first to throw stones at her former Party was Lise St-Denis (remember her?) the Liberal MP from Shawinigan, followed by Claude Patry (Jonquière-Alma) who bizarrely chose to jump onboard the sinking ship of the Bloc Québecois last year.

There will be no mention of the Provincial Quebec NDP Party Mulcair promised a few years ago.  The party is keeping their cards close to their chest on this matter, due to the lack of any obvious progress in its creation and the fact Mulcair doesn’t want to enter the political minefield that is the national unity debate in Quebec which could easily backfire by alienating either the party’s federalist or nationalist voters.

The NDP’s hesitant support for the Line 9 pipeline being proposed by Enbridge, that would deliver Alberta’s delicious crude to the East where it would be refined in Montreal and presumably drive down the price of gas in Quebec and create jobs in the province.  The project is highly controversial with the NDP’s green base, especially since the company behind it is the same one backing the unloved Northern Gateway which is ironically being opposed by the NDP.  Every effort will be made to avoid the subject this weekend.

On the other hand, the NDP will want to emphasis several issues that it perceives as winners among Quebecers and possibly the rest of Canada too.

The first will be a resolution related to last summers Gaza crisis that took its toll on the Party (see above) and continues to be problematic for the considerable Pro-Palestinians faction within the Party.  One of the riding associations is putting forward a resolution that calls for the Government of Canada to support Dr. Izzueldin Abuelaish’s ongoing humanitarian crusade to bring a hundred injured children for treatment to Ontario.  The plan was inexplicably rejected by Foreign Minister John Baird, despite support from both the Dippers and the Grits when it was first proposed.

Then there is the party’s vehement stand against the TransCanada pipeline at Cacouna, which has become a lightning rod since the issue was the subject of a court injunction on the grounds that the project, approved by the province, was a threat to the endangered beluga population of the St Lawrence River.   It also serves as a handy stick with which to beat Justin Trudeau, given his clumsy attempt to support the project, while at the same time pooh-poohing Northern Gateway on Quebec’s ultimate political showcase, the talk show Tous le Monde En Parle last Sunday.

Finally, the one resolution no doubt put on the agenda to garner some favourable local headlines, is calling for the feds to design a plan to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City through the creation of some sort of co-operative model (à la FC Barcelona or Saskatchewan Roughriders) that would entail fan ownership of the hypothetical sport’s franchise.  The resolution doesn’t mention the NHL by name, but make no mistake, hockey fans will easily read between the lines.  Never mind that Gary Bettman has already said that expansion to Quebec isn’t in the cards for the league, nor would he ever buy into such a scheme.  The resolution has a good shot at passing and providing the party with some good local press and a feel-good story from the convention to boot.

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Other articles by David DesBaillets

Are Canadian unions divorcing the NDP?
Harper government eliminates another obstacle to executive powers
Harper misses the point on calls for public inquiry into missing aboriginal women
New book and Scottish separatism resurrects the ghosts of the 1995 Quebec Referendum
Has the Harper government declared war on Canadian charities

Follow David DesBaillets on twitter: @DDesBaillets

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