Whew! What a dull convention. The New Democrats came together on the weekend in Halifax for their biggest party gathering in three years. Some bold moves were forecast going in. Nothing had happened going out. Bottom line — the Dippers are standing pat.
There was much talk of broadening the party's reach through a name change or such initiatives as tax breaks for businesses. But in the end it was former leader Alexa McDonough who captured the mood. “The foundation of the party is rock solid,” she said.
There has to be change, “but what isn’t going to change, is our basic values.”
The party has made gains in recent elections. The Liberals, under new leadership, appear to be leaving them more room on the left side of the spectrum. Jack Layton is solid. Why take risks?
There wasn’t enough momentum from the rank and file to say to heck with third place, let’s try and challenge the two major parties.
To do that, changing the name to simply The Democratic Party would have been a risk worth taking. In its current form the party still has a 1960s Woodstock air. Modernization of the image is a must.
These should be ideal times for a party like the NDP. There’s a recession, an unpopular war, an environmental crisis with global warming. They are all issues that play to the left.
But besides having the image of an old party they are also saddled with the problem of a lack of media presence. The New Democrats have no big media to sell their message — to sing their song. There’s a national newspaper of the right, the National Post.
There’s one for the centre, the Globe and Mail. There’s none for the left. In recent times the Canadian media has drifted to the right. The NDP is largely ignored — even when the issues of the day run in their favour.
To change this they have to find a way of gaining ownership of media properties.
But lefties don’t have deep pockets.
Big money runs big media — and that isn’t going to change.