Monday, March 11, 2013

Campaign Wrap Up: There's Got To Be A Morning After

The post is a little later than expected, but I found myself wanting to take a little bit of extra time to digest the events of the weekend, and wrap up the blog's campaign coverage in the best possible way.

Firstly, as mentioned in the previous post, I once again want to extend my thanks to all the candidates who stepped forward in this race. I, like many members, spent a long time doing some soul searching and struggled with ultimately deciding which candidate to support. This was due to the high quality of the four candidates, all of whom I am glad to stand with as a New Democrat, and they have all made a lasting impact on the party for years to come.

To borrow an analogy we heard a lot during the campaign, while only one of them has been selected to be Captain, all of them together will make a great team. So to Cam, Ryan, Trent and Erin; thanks again for all the ideas, passion, thought, and vision that you brought to this leadership race. I look forward to working with all of you as we move our party forward and work towards making a stronger, better, and more equal province.

Now, we do need to address the elephant in the room...With Cam's come from behind victory, the speculation has already been rampant of a clear divide in the party; fuelled mostly by mainstream media members, we do need to address the issue, even if the entire thing is a bit of a non-starter. I think there is a concern for such a divide to exist, leadership races can sometimes create such problems, but I don't think we've seen any clear signs of such a divide.

While there has been some surprised reactions on social media, as well as some comments from some downtrodden members, I would say the bulk has been mostly positive reaction to the leadership race. As such, while there are some members who obviously feel a bit disappointed that their candidate (be it Ryan or Trent) wasn't selected as leader, I think this is just a temporary situation.

After all, we all know what it's like to volunteer time and effort and to put our heart into something only to come up a little short at the end. It's a horrible feeling, and it tends to linger, but I think members who are experiencing this will get to see Cam in action in the Legislature and see the steps that he is taking to restore the party, and will eventually find themselves back onside.

Again, I wouldn't say this is indicative of a divide; rather, I'd say it's a natural reaction and one that will eventually subside.

Not to say that there isn't work that needs to be done; some of these members will heal themselves over time, while others will need to see positive steps taken by the party leadership to heal some of the larger wounds that exist. With that note, I think Cam has gotten off to a great start in taking those first steps. He was quick to reach out to Erin and Ryan and encourage them to seek a seat in the next election, even suggesting that they have a future in Cabinet in the next NDP Government.

And of course, he's reached out substantially to Trent by making him the new Deputy Leader. In turn, we've seen the other candidates return this call for unity; and I think this will go a long way.

In Ryan's case, however, actions will speak louder than words. Dan Tan has pointed out on his blog (LINK) that Ryan has a major role in ensuring that members who signed up to support his campaign stay within the party with Cam at the helm. A show of a truly united front, with Cam and Ryan campaigning together in the next election, would be the best image to show that the party is united.

The debate has even spread to Greg's blog (LINK) in the comments section, and effectively the only consensus that seems to be reached is that Ryan has a role to play in the party in the years ahead. Of course, as Greg points out, we're years away from the next election and Ryan has plenty of time to consider the potential roles ahead of him.

However, I would also say that it's foolhardy to suggest that all of Ryan's supporters will run from the party if he's not at the helm, or if he takes on a role that isn't as active as an MLA or "policy wonk" in the party. As mentioned above, I think anyone still harbouring some conflicted feelings will have the opportunity to watch what evolves from the Broten NDP and see that the party is in good hands and moving in a direction that they can be proud to support.

But, I'm worried that I'm endorsing the idea of the divide I've been denying (which is far from my intention), so we'll move on and wrap up this post before I start to ramble.

Moving on, today was the first chance for Cam to sit as Leader of the Opposition in the Legislature. Cam's first day included some great questions regarding classroom/educational cuts, the carbon capture fiasco at the University of Regina, and the odd topic of being an "old guard" politician at the ripe old age of 34.

Cam and the team performed admirably, and the government's answers during Question Period fell noticeably short. It's a great start for Cam, and we'll really see a good chance for our new leadership to shine come Budget Day. There's a lot of political points to be scored at the moment by keeping the government's feet to the fire over some of the actions they've taken, and it would seem the party is well prepared to earn them.

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