Dominic Cardy refuses to endorse Tom Mulcair, skips party convention
New Brunswick NDP leader was troubled by positions federal party took during 2015 campaign
New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is skipping the federal party's weekend convention that will be voting on Tom Mulcair's future as leader and he is raising concerns about the direction the party is taking on key issues.
Cardy would not say whether he supports Mulcair continuing on at the helm of the federal party. He said he has an opinion but will leave it to the New Democrats heading to the Edmonton convention to decide on the federal leader's fate.
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But Cardy was quick to point out problems that he has with the path the party is taking on several policy fronts dating back to last fall's federal election campaign.
"With the way the federal NDP campaign rolled out last year, from around halfway through the campaign, there were a lot of positions that I didn't feel particularly comfortable with," he said.
In particular, Cardy said he was frustrated by Mulcair's decision to come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal during the campaign even though he hadn't read the text. The provincial leader said losing free trade agreements would hurt New Brunswick industries.
Cardy also said he was "very disheartened" by the NDP's position on the war in Syria.
"The NDP federally took a position saying that we would disengage completely from all military action in the Middle East, something I thought was both not responsible and not something that the party agreed to, which is my core concern," he said.
Politics of endorsement
J.P. Lewis, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, said Cardy's lack of an endorsement mirrors stances by other federal high-profile New Democrats.
Mulcair went into the 2015 federal election campaign as Leader of the Official Opposition, after winning 103 seats in 2011. The NDP had a strong start to the campaign and Mulcair's party enjoyed a period when it was leading in public opinion polls.
But the party started losing ground to the Liberals and after all the ballots were counted on Oct. 19, the NDP emerged with 44 seats in the House of Commons.
The party started a post-mortem on the election campaign, which was led by Rebecca Blaikie, the party president, who said the NDP was "out of synch" with voters.
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The report said the party did not have a "strong, simple narrative" and there was criticism of the NDP's promise to balance the budget.
The policy, which was driven by Avi Lewis and author Naomi Klein, calls for dramatic change, urging a transition away from fossil fuels, a rejection of new pipelines and an upending of the capitalist system on which the economy is based.
Heading into the Edmonton convention, Lewis, along with former MPs Libby Davies and Craig Scott, are circulating a plan to entrench the manifesto's aims in the party's policies.
Stop 'fighting battles of 50 years ago'
Cardy said the party needs to think seriously about how it will approach policy issues in the future.
"I don't think fighting battles of 50 years ago is radical or progressive. The world has changed a lot."
Cardy said it "would be a serious mistake" to endorse the manifesto. He said Mulcair must articulate his vision for the party while in Edmonton.
"I hope he addresses that if he wants to be remaining in a leadership position that he very clearly spells out what he wants to do, which I think trying to straddle a mushy middle is going to alienate everyone and there is no way ahead for that," he said.