New Brunswick

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hurts party when he ignores New Brunswick, former MP says

The federal election is two months away, and the New Democratic Party still doesn't have a candidate in any of the 10 New Brunswick ridings.

No NDP candidates have been lined up in New Brunswick for the federal election this fall

Yvon Godin, the former NDP member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst, says party workers may be tired of working hard and not winning. (The Canadian Press)

The federal election is two months away, and the New Democratic Party still doesn't have a candidate in any of the 10 New Brunswick ridings.

Yvon Godin, the former NDP member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst, blames party leader Jagmeet Singh and the small amount of time he's spent in New Brunswick and other parts of Canada that don't have big cities. 

"I find it sad to see that, because the NDP has done good in the past," said Godin, who was an MP for 18 years.

Godin said other political party leaders, like Liberal Justin Trudeau, Conservative Andrew Scheer, and Elizabeth May of the Green Party have all visited the province recently.

"People jump on the boat," he said. "I think here it's just the silence that we see around it is just too much."

Godin said the public likes it when political party leaders come to town, but Singh is spending too much time in larger cities, such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. 

The train is going by, it's getting late.-Yvon Godin, former MP for the NDP

"Probably to save the party because it's not going that good, the money is not in," he said.

"I'm not proud of what he's doing."

Former provincial NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie resigned after last year's election, and the party hasn't found a new leader.

The NDP's share of the popular vote in the September election was its lowest since 1974. Unlike previous federal NDP leaders, Singh didn't visit New Brunswick to support McKenzie during the campaign. 

A party for the people

The NDP won no seats in the New Brunswick's legislature, but the Green Party and People's Alliance broke through with three seats each. 

For the federal election, the Liberals and Conservatives have almost filled their candidate slates in New Brunswick, and both the Greens and People's Party of Canada already have candidates in more than half the ridings. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been spending too much time in major centres, says Godin. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

"I think the people that work hard for the party, I kind of find them, maybe tired," Godin said of the NDP. "[It's] hard to see all those years go by and [not] get into the power."

Godin finds the decline in the party's fortunes sad, since the NDP has been around for more than 50 years.

"I believe it's a party for the people. … it's the party that brought public health care in our country," he said. "Public health care that many countries would love to have."

Party can't bring Jack Layton back

During the 1997 federal election, the NDP won 21 seats under former party leader Alexa McDonough, including a historic breakthrough in the Atlantic provinces.

McDonough stepped down as leader in 2003.

Next came Toronto politician Jack Layton, whose leadership helped the party win 103 seats in the 2011 federal election. Layton died later that year from prostate cancer. 

Jack Layton died in August of 2011 after leading the NDP to victory in 103 ridings that year. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Godin said the leader is key to a party's success, and the NDP hasn't been the same since the loss of Layton.

"We cannot bring Jack back," he said. "I wish we could." 

Under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair, Singh's predecessor, the party came in third, with 44 seats, in the last election.

"We should've been the party in power, the last time in 2015, and we lost the election," he said.  

Alexa McDonough was leader of the federal NDP when it won 21 seats in 1997.

Godin is still hopeful the NDP can revive itself but said the party has to do its part — particularly in New Brunswick. 

He is encouraging party supporters to take another step and become candidates before the election is called in two weeks. 

"It's time to bring it out," said Godin, who can't imagine voting for any party but the NDP. "The train is going by, it's getting late." 

About the Author

Elizabeth Fraser

Reporter/Editor

Elizabeth Fraser is a reporter/editor with CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She's originally from Manitoba. Story tip? elizabeth.fraser@cbc.ca

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