In case you haven’t heard the news, the NDP are considering dropping the word “New” from their party’s name. In essence, they’re looking to rebrand as the Democratic Party of Canada. After all, they’ve been “New” for nearly fifty years, and hey, they’re mainstream now!
But this entirely smacks of the same kind of “me too”ism that is affecting all leftists in Canada – and even some Conservatives – of trying to catch their own piece of the Obama magic. This particular move, however, would probably be the most blatant of all of them.
Seriously, though – why would the NDP really want to identify themselves with an American party that is largely to the right politically of the Liberals? (An American friend of mine commented after the election about how left-wing the States was swinging until I reminded her that America only has far-right and centre-right parties. She didn’t disagree). Why wouldn’t they want to identify themselves with, say, the far more successful Labour party from the UK? After all, they dislodged their country’s Liberal party as the other top party, just like the NDP are aiming to do. Oh, wait – I guess they’re pretty right wing these days too…
The point is that this particular rebranding exercise just smacks of opportunism and trying to latch themselves onto something one might consider more “legitimate,” despite their own rich history in this country. Sure, the Conservatives are using the Karl Rove handbook, and sure, the Liberals had Howard Dean at the convention-before-last giving the keynote address – but neither of them are trying to actually adopt the name of an American party to gain some kind of electoral legitimacy. That the NDP will have Obama’s campaign communications director addressing their upcoming convention just makes it all the more obvious.
“New” or not, the NDP will still be the “Dippers” on the political scene. Attaching themselves to the star of an American president whose popularity is already fading won’t do them any favours, nor will it make Jack Layton look like he can deliver sunshine, rainbows, gumdrops and unicorns the way people were certain that Obama would. I would suggest saving themselves the future embarrassment, and just forgetting the whole exercise before they wind up really chagrined by the process.
(And incidentally, this goes doubly for provincial Liberals in Alberta who somehow think that rebranding themselves as something other than Liberals will remove the Trudeau taint that stalks their party like a zombie hungry for tasty brains. It’s not your party name that’s the problem – it’s the one-party-state political mentality of the province. Get over it, and go at it from that angle).
Elsewhere, Michael Ignatieff joined the Writer’s Union of Canada – or rather, renewed his lapsed membership – in order to highlight the fact that there are some difficult copyright issues coming to the fore soon. And yes, Layton is already a member.
If you wanted to read Her Excellency’s speech from her trip to Edmonton, a copy of it is posted here. It’s pretty great reading – about the ways in which the urban arts are creating a common dialogue with youth across the nation, while still acknowledging that there are problems with some of these arts – like the commercial “gansta” hip hop with its violence, misogyny and homophobia that should be addressed. Nevertheless, these urban arts are the voice of a generation, and that it’s the way they are trying to be heard by their leaders.
And Jason Kenney for Conservative leader? I don’t think it could actually happen, but some people seem to think that it might, which I think disturbs me just a little bit.
Up today: Harper is off to BC to tour “made in Canada” Olympic venues, do photo ops, take credit for infrastructure projects begun by the Liberals, and generally look interested.