Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Hail Mary Pass From Andrea?

Some might interpret it thus, in that Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, desperate to retain her job under increasing demands for her resignation, thinks she has found something to distinguish herself from the Liberals.

She is launching a campaign against government sell-offs of public assets in as she works to shore up her leadership amid a challenge from the left wing of the party.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess:

The NDP socialist caucus held a meeting last Saturday and called on Horwath, who faces a mandatory leadership review in mid-November, to resign after waging “the worst NDP campaign since Bob Rae attempted to defend his infamous social contract in 1995.”

“There was no mandate to veer to the right of the Liberal Party in a vain attempt to appeal to Conservative supporters and the business class,” said a news release from the caucus, pointing to Horwath’s pledges like removing the HST from electricity bills and tax credits for job creation.

As a diversionary tactic, her opposition to the proposed government sales to raise money might make some sense, but the devil is always in the details. Consider these two statements:

Horwath said her new push against privatization, following last week’s government announcement on the sale of the Queens Quay LCBO lands, heralds the “fundamental values” of the NDP and downplayed the dissent.

Yet in the next breath:

Horwath said even the prospect of selling a portion of any government assets to private investors is “a pretty slippery slope” but did not rule out supporting the sale of the LCBO lands on the waterfront to developers.

“We’re prepared to look at the details.”

For me, the above contradiction epitomizes what is wrong with Horwath's leadership. Just as in the last election, where party principle was sacrificed at the altar of expediency, her ambiguous stand on the sale of assets reflects once more a rudderless party that would be better off under fresh and principled vision and leadership.

And it's never a good sign when they start asking and answering their own questions:

“Did we do everything right? Absolutely not,” Horwath told a news conference Wednesday, noting the New Democrats held steady at 21 seats. “Did we do everything wrong? Absolutely not.”

It would seem that concerned progressives will soon be posing other more penetrating questions that Horwath, when called upon, will not be able to answer as glibly and easily.

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