As we approach the eve of a federal election I would like to peek in on the campaigns from time to time and look back on the history of where the parties have been up and down in this country. Many years ago as a young man my father explained political parties are in a sense living entities. They are flush with supporters when they feel the pulse of the people. Never mind the polls it is the ground action that counts. That is the second part of the equation. If party leadership is in good hands a party may have trouble but they are able to weather the storm and rebuild.
Some years ago the Hatfield Conservative party of New Brunswick was so out of touch Frank McKenna’s Liberals took every seat in the House. The present government is a conservative government.
In Saskatchewan the Divine Conservatives were reduced to six seats, they were mauled by the NDP some of the members of the conservative party ended up in jail. Today the conservatives are in power under the Saskatchewan Party label.
The wild west of politics is reserved for BC. We witnessed the destruction of the Social Credit Party. They came back as the Liberals. We have seen the NDP shattered more than once today they are the government.
Now to federal politics it has many ups and downs for those of us with short memories. I remember Tommy Douglas quoting history the night the NDP was nearly wiped out they stopped the bleeding with a mere eight seats and predictions of their demise.
Remember 1993 the night the conservatives were reduced to two seats in the house? But the two incidents in political history is where party members took their wrath out on their own. This happens rarely but it happens. One is part of history and the second is about to put a “pox” on its own house. First let’s deal with history.
After the nineteen fifty-seven election that John Diefenbaker did not win, a movement started and built into a frenzy. As a kid I heard people express their anger. Rightly or wrongly the perception was John was stabbed in the back by party insiders.
That perception lasted complete with resentment until well into the nineteen seventies before Joe Clark eventually became Prime Minister.
Here is the lesson not learned and in my personal view the long time New Democrats have the perception, Tom Mulcair was stabbed in the back in Edmonton in a political ambush. People I know that I asked said they will hold their nose and vote with the hope of reorganizing. A number of family members will render a spoiled ballot which is of course not counted.
Perhaps we should look at what is available in some provinces. It is called a declined ballot and is counted as a protest the same as saying None of the above. You can cast a declined ballot provincially in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan an in Alberta. I wonder how many would register a declined ballot federally if it was available?
So the news headlines and predictions the NDP or any other party is toast is likely no more than wishful thinking on the part of the person who spoke their opinion. I believe all parties are an integral part of the political landscape and all strengthen the democracy we hold dear as a society.