Leadership candidate Brian Topp says NDP can win by not copying Conservatives by suppressing turnout
Federal NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp has offered a blueprint on how to defeat the Conservative government under Stephen Harper.
At a town-hall meeting at the Bonsor Recreation Centre in Burnaby today, Topp told 125 party members that the NDP must not copy Conservative campaign tactics by focusing on the negative.
"So what’s the Conservative playbook?" Topp asked. "It’s to get people angry, to divide them from each other, and to persuade the people not to vote. That’s what their negative ads are all about. They don’t call their negative ads 'negative ads'. They call them voter suppression."
He claimed that billions of dollars have been spent by the U.S. Republican party, various think tanks, and others on refining negative messages. Their goal, Topp insisted, is primarily to discourage women, young people, and workers from voting.
"The right wing has been copying these techniques all around the world," he maintained. "And they’ve been very successful at suppressing the vote. And therefore, getting their minority—the right-wing conservative minority—to win elections. Just look at voter turnout. It has been steadily dropping all around the world as conservatives have been going by the playbook, which is about getting people angry, dividing them from each other, and getting the rest of the people not to vote."
He went on to say that the federal Liberals blundered by trying to go negative against Harper, which only reinforced the Conservatives' objectives.
Former NDP leader Jack Layton, on the other hand, tried a different approach, according to Topp, who was elected party president last year.
"Yes Jack took them on, and we have to keep taking them on—right between the eyes, right at them," Topp stated. "But he never attacked the Conservatives without also making a positive proposal. A propositional attack. And so when women and young people and working people listened to Jack, they thought this guy is offering me something better."
Topp said that in the next election, the federal New Democrats will be running to form the government. And he suggested that they emphasize their record in government in the past, which he claimed was the best of any party.
"We are the most fiscally responsible with an excellent record of economic management," he said. "Just look at our excellent record here in British Columbia compared to the abysmal Liberal record in British Columbia."
He characterized the NDP as "socially progressive, environmentally responsible”. Then he urged party members to "reach deeply into those traditions and marry them to Jack Layton’s hopeful, optimistic approach" to move forward to victory.
"We should not defeat ourselves even as we’re winning by adopting the agendas of our opponents," he said. "So I will insist that we do not have to become Liberals to win."
To that end, he mentioned his desire to increase the marginal federal tax rate to 35 percent from 29 percent on any income over $250,000.
Topp also promised to tax capital gains at the same rate as other income. More than a decade ago, former Liberal finance minister Paul Martin reduced the capital-gains tax rate to 50 percent of that of working income.
"We cannot do the rest of our platform if we don't address this issue," Topp declared.
The meeting attracted mostly grassroots members, but NDP MPs Libby Davies and Kennedy Stewart and former MP Bill Siksay were among those in the audience.
Jan 22, 2012 at 5:22pm
As usual Topp lives in a fantasy world all by himself. Voter supression my a$$. He is insulting Canadians in the only way a union socialist can. They can't think for themselves and we must save them from themselves. Mr. Topp should get stuffed.
Canadians will never and I mean never give the NDP no matter who the leader is the keys to the treasury. They have turned into the Bloc lite and are defending Quebec. Only the usual suspects in the ROC will continue to vote NDP and in fact they will lose support in the ROC because of their stances in supporting all things Quebec.
Jan 22, 2012 at 6:03pm
Topp's proposed increase in the top income tax rate will net maybe a billion and a half dollars.
"Topp also promised to tax capital gains at the same rate as other income"
Except that he wants to keep the loophole whereby homeowners aren't taxed on the capital gains on the sale of their homes. That costs the federal treasury $4 billion a year and represents a direct subsidy from the "broke assed home rental" cohort to the wealthy landowner class. It's regressive as hell and he knows it.
Non-taxation of business-paid health and dental benefits costs $3 billion a year. Again, this is borne by broke assed hourly workers with no benefits who are subsidizing wealthier workers with better jobs and benefits.
Time to get serious about policy. Here is a list of all tax loopholes and what they cost the treasury:
Jan 22, 2012 at 6:29pm
Nathan Cullen is the only candidate with the passion and a cooperative plan to beat the Neocons. It's great to talk policy, however the urgency is to beat Harper so we can implement our socially friendly policies.
Jan 22, 2012 at 9:09pm
This reminds me of a video of Nathan Cullen's. Glad to see candidates who want to do politics differently.
Jan 22, 2012 at 10:00pm
Thanks Charlie. I really appreciated this article. Thanks to you and Brian Topp, I am done with voting for conservatives anymore. NDP all the way! Positive politics forever.
Jan 23, 2012 at 12:03am
I think Topp gets it. Voters are disillusioned, especially young voters, like myself. Negative ads turn people off. Thanks Topp for bringing this up! (It really shows your wealth of experience.)
Jan 23, 2012 at 12:25am
Topp's a great guy. I give him props for being the brains behind numerous successful NDP elections. Jack clearly liked him as a back room strategist. I see no reason though, that the NDP should choose him as their leader. He's never been elected, he's got very little charm, and while he clearly understands the back of house aspects of the political game, I've seen very little evidence that he understands the front of house aspects. I hate to say it, but Topp needs to be running the backroom and making sure the genuine politician the NDP elects as leader is actually elected by Canadians.
Jan 23, 2012 at 2:13am
Full agreement with MFL. Brian is the backroom brains. Why would NDP want to put him in the front window? He clearly projects qualities that are in no way connected to the genuinely patient, composed and " i wanna share a beer with" personality traits that Layton possessed.
Leadership is about so much more than personality, but in the sound bite centric federal election campaigns in today's media age, you either have the personality to sell the rest of your party's package or you don't. Brian Topp does not.
Jan 23, 2012 at 9:28am
"Just look at our excellent record here in British Columbia compared to the abysmal Liberal record in British Columbia."
Statements like that clearly show that Mr. Topp is either not mentally competent or is just lying. That "excellent record here in British Columbia" led to the worst rejection by voters at the polls in BC history, 77-2.
I’m pretty sure he’s just lying.
Jan 23, 2012 at 10:21am
MLF is right - the NDP has lots to be grateful for when it comes to Brian Topp. However, it takes much more that strategy to lead a party or a country for that matter. If Topp is serious about stepping out from the back room then he needs to spend some time learning the ropes in the HoC first. Either way he will continue to be a huge asset to the NDP, but he certainly doesn't have the experience or the charisma to be leader of the Opposition or, more importantly, PM-in-waiting.