Nycole Turmel's links to sovereigntists could help the federal NDP
Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel's five-year membership in the Bloc Québécois became a big national story during one of the slowest news periods of the year.
It is creating headaches for provincial New Democrats in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario—where elections are all likely to occur by the end of this year.
As far as I can tell, no media commenators have pointed out how Turmel's past connection with Quebec sovereigntists could actually help the federal New Democrats.
If you think I'm insane for making this suggestion, consider the following:
”¢ Thomas Mulcair is a front runner to become the next federal NDP leader. He's a federalist from Montreal and former member of the Quebec Liberal cabinet.
”¢ As a former Liberal member of the National Assembly of Quebec, Mulcair may be viewed with some skepticism by sovereigntists, who previously backed the Bloc. If he becomes NDP leader, these concerns may intensify.
”¢ Turmel's high profile will mollify sovereigntists and blunt their desire to revive the Bloc. This will help maintain the NDP's strength in Quebec.
”¢ The federal NDP fares extremely poorly in provinces wherever it holds power. This was particularly evident in B.C. in the 1990s, but has also been true in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
”¢ Turmel's tumultuous start as the interim national leader will be exploited by right-wing politicians in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, which could hurt the party's chances of winning any of these provincial elections.
”¢ As long as the NDP remains in opposition at the provincial level, it has a greater chance of electing more MPs in Ottawa.
There's no proof that this was Jack Layton's game plan when he recommended Turmel to become interim leader. I've already suggested that his primary motivation was installing an older member of caucus who wouldn't be likely to seek the permanent leadership.
But the long-term effect of Turmel's appointment could be a very positive for the federal NDP. This is notwithstanding any collateral damage to its provincial counterparts.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.