Does the renewal underway by both the NDP and Liberals promise electoral success?


Opposition renewal:  Both the NDP and the Liberals are holding conventions they hope will put them on the road to electoral success.  The Liberals are choosing a new leader, while the New Democrats are nailing down policies.

Which party do you think now holds the most promise ...which is on the right path?

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This has been a busy weekend for both the New Democrats and the Liberals. They are each engaged in renewing their parties.

The NDP has just finished a major policy convention in Montreal where they voted on resolutions for new policies and re-wrote part of the party's constitution ...changes they hope will put them in a better position heading into the next election in 2015. They held a review vote on Thomas Mulcair's leadership, and he received the support of 92% of the delegates. Mulcair also handily won his effort to move the party towards the centre with changes to the preamble of the party's constitition. That vote updated the language eliminating some of the wording about socialism and the party's disapproval of corporations making profits.

Just a few miles up the river in Ottawa, the Liberals are approaching the end of a marathon leadership race, and they will announce the winner right about the time Cross Country Checkup ends today ...CBC will have a live news special with host Evan Solomon covering that announcement.

If we go back to the last election in 2011 almost two years ago, Michael Ignatieff stepped down the day after losing so badly and the party has been without a leader since. Bob Rae was appointed interim leader, a task he ably performed while the party developed, first a new way of picking a leader, and then the leadership race itself unfolded over 5 months. Most observers expect Justin Trudeau to win the leadership.

So, it's an important time for both parties and unusual for two such significant events to occur on the same weekend. Both parties are taking steps to define more clearly what they represent, and the approach they will take to challenge the Conservatives (and each other) in the next election.

What do you think of the direction they're both headed?

Are the NDP and the Liberals setting themselves up to take on the Conservatives ...or are they going to have to top each other first? What is your take on how this weekend has changed the way Canadian politics is developing? Our question today: "With both federal opposition parties engaged in renewal, which do you think is on the road to success?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...On CBC Radio One and on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Evan Solomon
    Host of CBC News Network's Power and Politics and CBC Radio One's The House.

  • Rebecca Blaikie
    National President NDP

  • Mike Crawley
    National President Liberal Party of Canada.

  • André Pratte
    Chief Editorial writer, La Presse and author of a biography of Wilfred Laurier in Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series.

  • Robin Sears
    Principal Earnscliffe Strategy Group


New Democratic Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

National Post

Globe and Mail

Toronto Star

Montreal Gazette

Winnipeg Free Press

Vancouver Sun


Justin is to be crowned in an hour or so. Mulcair looks and acts older than Jack.  Those are Jack's votes and I have it from some reliable Quebecers that those votes are parked but the meter is running. I respect Justin for his views on science, logic and passion in policy...

Orleans, Ontario

Until the Liberals and NDP unite as one Party, Harper's Conservatives will hold the upper hand at election time. The goal of Justin Trudeau should be to reach across the divide and form this united Party.

St.John's, Newfoundland

The Liberals may have gained some Trudeau momentum, but, we don't know what the Liberals stand for.  The NDP have a lesser momentum, but, are better positioned for the long game. '

With NDP momentum at the Provincial level across the country, proposed changes in Federal ridings in Saskatchewan, and more seats for B. C. I see the NDP in good shape for 2015. 

Metchosin, British Columbia

Re Trudeau - I'm so tired of hearing about his being the winner, and the use of royal imagery  etc. A party leader is being elected, not a monarch, even if Stephen Harper behaves like one sometimes. The party leader may become PM, not president/king/head of state. And it seems to me the media has been very unfair to the other candidates, always saying Trudeau is in front, giving him space in newspapers, talking about him on the radio/tv etc. and suggesting the others are losers without really comparing them with Trudeau on any rational basis. No wonder Garneau gave up.

Victoria, British Columbia

So much attention to the NDP's connection with "Socialism"!

We live within a system of capitalism plus socialism i.e. our education, health, military protection, equal rights, justice system, pension benefits, transportation, on and on  all are socialist in concept and practice.  We drive on socialist roads and walk on socialist sidewalks - what's the big deal?
White Rock, British Columbia

As someone who has worked in the trenches for the Liberals for the last 4 elections I believe renewal is a decade overdue. The party has had their problems but I think it's partly because of a much bigger shift that has taken place. To my perspective the whole Left Right scale is dead and it died in the 20th century. A better way to picture today's politics would be using a globe. Think of the traditional extremes as being the poles and the vast majority are at the equator, but no-one goes beyond the tropics of cancer or Capricorn. Everyone is a fiscal conservative. What defines voters today are the longitude issues, social policies. That's why so many people can have identical fiscal views but literally be on the other side of the globe socially. This renewal is just the first of many this century.

Saint John, New Brunswick

This is the end of social democracy as a political option in the Canadian parliament: it is about the capturing of the NDP by regional and separatist interests -- led by Mulcair who is a QC Tory essentially (like most members of the Parti Liberal du QC) who needs the separatist vote to get elected in Outremont.  Like Svend Robinson and Jack Layton, Mulcair cannot conceive of a national interest, and is content now to cobble together a Mulroney-like coalition of local interests.  This is the inevitable result of the Sherbrooke declaration, which by its support for QC nationalism essentially destroyed the NDP's historic support for national standards in healthcare, social programs, First Nations rights and industrial policy.  And who shall speak for Canada?  The only good thing about this is that the NDP has demolished its chances even of remaining the official opposition.  Between a genuine, "executive" Liberal like Justin Trudeau, who stands up robustly for the Clarity Act and against separatism, and a neo-liberal NDP that resembles central Europe's corrupt pseudo-socialist cadre parties, I predict that progressive Canadians will opt for the Liberals in large numbers.

Gatineau, Quebec

Perhaps a little off subject but I hope that the Canadian public isn't fooled into following Mr. Trudeau simply because his father was such a great leader.
The Americans learned the hard way that a son trying to follow in his father's footsteps can be a disaster. Look what happened with George W Bush.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

After voting all my life, have had deceptions, on broken promises. Have voted for various political parties in the past and this time   I am entertaining the idea of voting for Mr Justin Trudeau. True that he is young but talents do not wait for age.  He will surely have advisers in his team. Thinking about it till voting day.

Cornwall, Ontario   

The orange wave in Quebec was not so much pro NDP or pro Jack but anti Bloc Québécois and couldn't stomach Ignatieff. I suspect the next election will see the Quebec NDP vote return mostly to the bloc. Harper is wisely walking down the middle if the road and with the ongoing Liberal-NDP split, the Tories should win again. When the charisma drops from Trudeau and the lack of substantive difference on the left, the only winner are the Tories.

Fort St. John, British Columbia

The new Prime Minister in 2015 will have to take bold steps. Rich companies will have to pay more royalties and taxes, government wages and pensions should be well below private sector wages. We have to fix the direction of the media, media personal should be deprogrammed after spending 18 to 20 years in the education system. Our education system needs to be changed, close all smaller schools, go to a three day a week, a 45 week year for 14 years. Students should have training in cooking, driving, mechanics, carpentering and medical training. Our health care needs an overhaul, patients should be able to go to clinics to get blood work and heart checks before they go to see their doctor, they should be given a bill from the clinics and they could pay whatever part of the bill they wish.

J Campbell

It looks like a minority government for the next time. If the Liberals and the NDP joined forces they would have a chance to have a majority I hope that Justin has talent behind him to run a country. Mulcair I would give a chance. The best Prime Minister would be Elizabeth May the Green Party leader.  We need a new electoral system.

Edmonton, Alberta

Don't you think this topic is a bit premature given that one party has yet to complete the key stage of its renewal? Murphy may be keen to prejudge outcome, but serious Liberals won't be speaking until the result is known.  Everyone in NDP is free to discuss given that their process has already wrapped up

And what about other parties, e.g. Greens. They don't exist?

Ottawa, Ontario

With two strong leaders with broad appeal among Canadians, Harper is on course for his second majority. Both Mulcair and Trudeau are proclaiming that they will run a campaign in all ridings without co-operation. In the last election, the 13 ridings that gave Harper his majority were decided by some 3,200 voters who voted for the weaker opposition party. If the two leaders get their act together and decide to nominate joint candidates where the CPC is polling under 40%, Harper will be out of a job after the next election. The new government can then enact preferential ballots which will henceforth make MPs accountable to the majority of voters in their ridings. First past the post delivers a democratic result when there's two candidates   With as many as five strong parties running candidates, FPTP degrades into an electoral casino where many votes are lost.

Turner Valley, Alberta

 just finished watching on CBC Newsworld, a series of radically progressive ideas being endorsed unanimously as party policy. Even without the background colour, any Canadian could guess the political identity of the delegates at that convention.
Clear positions on controversial issues  - doing it because it's right, not because it's popular.
A passion for social justice, equality, fairness for all Canadians is the heritage and the hallmark of the New Democratic Party. We have a leader of great integrity, surrounded by a strong and principled team
It's time.  

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

I think "renewal" is a misnomer. I spent years reporting on politicians, -- politicians will continue to serve themselves, their platinum pension funds, their friends and their political cronies, regardless of political strip or label. Twenty years ago, I did, mistakenly, think politicians could make a difference in the life of the average Canadian, and that only the ignorant masses would claim that all politicians are the same.  But they are each the same. Come election morning you soon realise how that political label has been misrepresented for the sole purpose of electoral success. Fair enough given the very ideal of politics is to gain power and retain power.

As for Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Trudeau --- I watched Mr. Mulcair yesterday. He gives a keynote address with all the unbridled enthusiasm of a middle school teacher going over the Periodic Table....and young Mr. Trudeau, our very own John F. Kennedy Jr., I can hardly wait until he heads west to ask the question, "Why should I sell your wheat". The political times indeed are interesting....just NOT interesting enough to get me out to the polls. Stick a fork in me -- I'm done voting.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

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