Dividing The Country, Mulcair's Way

June 1st, 2012 - D. Stone 

The man who once considered becoming a Conservative seems to be positioned to divide Canada and to create the same level of conflict that existed in his own mind while he was contemplating which ideology to follow. One can only ask how Thomas Mulcair could have considered being a Tory. The ideological polarity doesn't allow for much logic unless we accept Thomas Mulcair as either schizophrenic or politically illiterate.

Thomas Mulcair's politics of division, which harkens to the divisive politics of Barack Obama, has done more harm than good for Canada's unity. Being a MP from Quebec, Mulcair has a unique opportunity to unite the country, but instead he has chosen to divide it.

Mulcair told CBC radio that Alberta's oil sands have debilitated Eastern Canada's economic prosperity by killing manufacturing jobs and keeping the Canadian dollar artificially high. He then went on to hint at a socialist solution that would purposefully curtail Alberta's economic growth and decrease the value of the Canadian dollar. This type of polarizing rhetoric may be exactly what Ontarions and Quebecers want to hear, but it won't do much to excite voters in B.C., Saskatchewan, and Alberta. In fact, it may create a fire capable of destroying national unity at a time when it's needed most.

Although Mulcair has been criticized for being too centrist, his contempt for Alberta's economic prosperity is strikingly socialist and far to the left.

Any individual would feel alienated if they were demonized for their prosperity or financial success. Just ask U.S. Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, who has been at the brunt of Obama's efforts to dismantle America's entrepreneurial foundations. To suggest that someone's prosperity should be revoked for the sake of their neighbours would only serve as insult to injury. However, this has been Mulcair's mode of conduct since taking the role of NDP leader. In one swoop, Mulcair was able to alienate a modest portion of Canada's electorate. This may not have been what Jack Layton wanted, but it is what Canadians are getting from the NDP.

Saskatchewan Premier, Brad Wall, was quick to rebuff Mulcair by resorting to social media, where he said, “Thomas Mulcair calls the strength of our resource sector a 'disease'...Resources have been the cure not the problem.” This was in response to Mulcair's remark that compared Canada's current economic situation to “The Dutch Disease” in which the Netherland's oil industry pushed the country's currency upward in the 60's.

Thomas Mulcair has also compared Canada's oil industry to Nigeria, a country that kills and maims its own citizens.

B.C.'s Liberal Premier, Christy Clarke, called Mulcair's comments goofy. Federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, said Mulcair's logic is off. Alberta Premier, Alison Redford, invited Mulcair to visit the oil sands. Mulcair eventually accepted her offer under political pressure.

Logic has seldom been the NDP's forte, so it is no surprise that Mulcair is toeing the party's traditional lines. In mid-May, it was even less surprising to see Mulcair defiant and reaffirming his “Dutch Disease” remarks. At this rate, Mulcair will do a fine job of digging the NDP's grave by himself.

Mulcair's wisdom has been confusing to say the least. Turning provinces into foes seems unproductive for the leader of an opposition party that has a real opportunity to form government in 2015. It seems as though Mulcair is capable at this point of undoing all of Jack Layton's accomplishments.

Some NDP strategists may be partly to blame for Mulcair's recent mudslinging. The NDP has never fared well enough in Western Canada to consider the seats there important or worth their time. It appears as though the NDP's strategy is to scoop up as many votes as possible in the East with the hopes of beating out the remaining Liberals. It is a strategy that could prove successful or fatal, depending on the willingness of Canadians to accept division over unity.

Mulcair's very early strategy to pit the West against the East may only be the beginning of a more lengthy narrative. Again, Jack Layton would have frowned upon all of this, but we shouldn't expect Mulcair to back down any time soon. If the NDP's poll numbers continue to rise over the next few months, we will see clear evidence that their strategy to divide and conquer is, in fact, working.

Caught in the very middle of this divisive battle between right and left are the Liberals. A party that seemed – at one point – destined to become the unfortunate loser between two parties competing for the support of moderates, but could come out the winner because of Mulcair's efforts to further polarize Canada.

With discontent rising amongst Conservatives over an MP's effort to reignite the abortion debate and over the Robocall and F-35 scandals, the Tories seem poised to shed some of the very same moderates that helped them win in 2011. If Mulcair manages to drive the NDP closer to its traditional leftist roots, and do so in a contentious manner, he may shed the more centrist voters that his party gained in 2011 at the expense of the Liberals.

With the left and the right both playing with fire, the men in the middle could make a comeback.