NDP suffer identity crisis in BC and in Ottawa

Two & Out
By James Peters
November 25, 2016 - 5:00pm

KAMLOOPS — The federal NDP may finally have a leadership candidate - maybe?

Ontario MP Charlie Angus has stepped aside from his caucus critic roles to contemplate a run at leadership.

Peter Julian might be running, too, but that's still hypothetical.

It's a stunning contrast to the Conservative leadership race, in which absolutely everyone appears to be a candidate, indicating at least some widespread hope and ambition for the future within Conservative ranks.

As the NDP silence lingers, it becomes increasingly clear that Jack Layton's Orange Crush of 2011 was a historical aberration, not a harbinger of things to come.

The 2015 election was an embarrassment for the party, with the distinctly un-NDP like decision to promise balanced budgets making the party a sitting duck to be outflanked on the left by the Trudeau Liberals.

The third party in the House of Commons now faces both a crisis of leadership and a crisis of identity.

Here in BC, the provincial NDP have a leader, but the identity crisis is even more longstanding.

In fact, former MLA Bob Simpson articulated it best when he was kicked out of caucus in 2010.

Simpson said the party needed to forge a purpose beyond simply standing in opposition to everything the BC Liberals do.

It's a criticism that is just as relevant today as it was then.

This party has shown that it certainly can oppose.

But if that's all it can do, it will be the opposition in perpetuity.

The NDP will always have its supporters among unions and environmentalists who haven't snuck over to the Green party.

Absent a clear vision and identity that doesn't revolve around simply saying "no," the exact brush the Liberals have used to paint them, they won't win the broad support needed to win next year's provincial election.

They'll have to rely on the BC Liberal tent becoming so large, it cracks under its own weight.

The good news for Team Horgan?

That's not completely out of the realm of possibility, and there's plenty of time before next May.