Sunday, December 04, 2011

NDP leadership debate

This afternoon my mum and I headed downtown to watch the NDP Leadership debate. Since we were late and the Convention Centre was filled to standing-room only, we headed to a nearby pub where Paul Dewar’s crew had arranged for people to watch CPAC’s telecast.

I’m now decided that the best way to watch political debates is in a pub, with a beer and snacks, in the company of others. (The only downside was that CPAC only provided the English translation of the French part of the debate – leaving us tele-viewers to rely on random ndpldr tweeters for reports on how well the candidates did in French).

There were quite a few jokes in our little pub peanut gallery about how friendly the debate was. Many of the candidates complimented each other, graciously thanked each other, offered up bits of mild praise. Nathan Cullen said at one point that he was “in violent agreement with his colleagues”. An odd but rather fitting description of the debate over all.

Yet while the friendliness of the debate seemed almost comical at times, I was very glad to see the positive tone. ‘The ability to inspire and elevate the political debate is a position that’s ours for the taking,’ Cullen remarked and Niki Ashton called for help in bringing ‘new politics to Ottawa’.

I think this new, elevated politics could be brought forward by a leader who would campaign not only on personal merit, but on the ability to draw together the strengths of a team. This would be a candidate who could inspire people with a vision of a progressive, socially and environmentally responsible government – and with a demonstration of constructive, positive teamwork and the wisdom to celebrate and strengthen the party as a whole. As Thomas Mulcair said of the team, ‘together we are unbeatable’.

Obviously, such a position would be a delicate one to take during a leadership campaign – the goal of which is to be chosen as leader of the NDP. It would require not an insubstantial amount of finesse to highlight the skills of other candidates (opponents) but still look like the best pick. It would be hard, but it could be done.

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