The members of the New Democratic Party’s have made their choice and opted for Québec’s Thomas Mulcair. Winning after a four day voting spree, the Outremont MP now has the task of preserving not only what was gained during the last federal election, but also of demonstrating that the traditional role of an opposition party is to show that the dream of some day governing the country is not a mere daydream.
I have absolutely no doubt that the federal NDP has made the right choice, if only to hang on to the seats won in Québec during the historic achievement of May 2011. However, the new leader will have to swiftly make himself visible in the Prairie provinces and in the West, if he is seriously considering leading his party to victory. Although the status of official opposition has presented the party with an exceptional platform from which it can demonstrate that it is ready for the big show, the challenge remains enormous.
It is now time for Mulcair to judiciously make use of the important resources, budgetary as well as in matters of visibility, associated with his role as official opposition. He can draw on an arsenal that will give him a concrete advantage over his real opponent – the Liberal Party.
On the other hand, we can bet that the Conservative Party won’t make it easy for the NDP and will quickly try to demean the party in the eyes of the electorate. Think what you will about this kind of tactic, but you have to admit that this sort of thing has worked for the Conservatives, just look at what happened to Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.
That said, the NDP’s leadership convention enabled us to study the matching of traditional approaches to leadership conferences with modern technologies. People who couldn’t be present in Toronto were still able to participate in the conference and vote in real time for their new leader.
The hitch, as I was mentioning in my last column, is that the majority of NDP members did so before the beginning of the augural day. This implies that the people who waited until the weekend to cast their votes probably didn’t have a very big influence on the final results.
Candidate Peggy Nash has rightly mentioned after the second round’s results that her choice for the third round wouldn’t be significant since the majority of members had already voted.
However, the use of online voting by the NDP has served a purpose. The massive cyber attacks that inundated the system used by the NDP and disrupted services don’t seem to have had a major impact on the end results. Yet, they send a strong cautionary signal should online voting be an option for a general election.
Even though these malicious attacks only managed to considerably slow down the voting process and the unveiling of results, they could have had a major impact on the end results. Just imagine what would happen if similar grains of sand came to clog the general election’s machinery.
One can easily imagine a country, whose regime had more or less honourable values, could have a serious disruption of on-line voting during general elections. We can now thank the NDP for giving us food for thought before scrapping the time honoured ways of voting.
Translation Monique Kroeger