Monday, September 8, 2014

In Pursuit Of Andrea

My post yesterday on Andrea Horwath's leadership shortcomings provoked a series of thoughtful responses that I am reproducing below, on the assumption that the majority of blog readers don't necessarily return to a post to see the ensuing commentary. I hope you enjoy reading the reactions as much as I did:

Kirby Evans September 7, 2014 at 12:01 PM

She will hold on for two reasons - 1. corruption of the process, and 2. because seldom does any party have the courage to stand up for principle and dump their leader. Look how long Hudak held on for and I bet he could have survived another leadership review. One of the many drawbacks of the Party system is that it systematically undermines political courage with a garrison mentality.

Lorne September 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

You may be right, Kirby, but in the process she might have to resurrect her capacity for 'fancy footwork' to convince the rank and file that she is worthy of any further trust.

The Mound of Sound September 7, 2014 at 1:02 PM

I expect Kirby is right. If it was my call, I'd cast her into the burning bowels of hell!

Anonymous September 7, 2014 at 2:47 PM

The false narrative that the Ontario NDP went right-wing (by being honest and pragmatic on fiscal matters) and that the economically right-of-centre Ontario Liberals became the true "progressive" voice (and somehow transformed into a totally different party by changing their leader) was a magnificent achievement by the Liberal Party and their enablers. Even a lot of traditional NDP supporters fell for this deceptive trick. It should be held up as a model in marketing and public relations classes.

Lorne September 7, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Unfortunately, Anon, it seems to me and many others that Horwath's refusal to support, for example, the Liberal proposal for a made-in-Ontario pension plan, something that she originally promoted, was but one example of her strange drift away from the kind of principled vision the NDP is traditionally associated with.

Anonymous September 7, 2014 at 3:23 PM

In due time, we will see how un-progressive the Ontario Liberals' "most-progressive-in-decades" budget actually is, and that their pension scheme is like most of their policies and programs: sounds good in theory, but in practice would be done half-assed, would cost way too much (with money being shovelled out the door to arms-length board members and outside consultants), and would mostly benefit the wealthy elites instead of society as a whole. Their scandelous record is full of examples.

Lorne September 7, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Time will tell if your prediction is correct, Anon. Of course, one could argue that had Horwath not forced the election, the NDP would still be in a position (i.e., holding the balance of power) to ensure that the kinds of excesses you forecast could not take place.

Anonymous September 8, 2014 at 12:42 AM

That the ONDP held the balance of power was an illusion. The Liberals kept making promises to the NDP in order to get their support on bills, then kept breaking all (or almost all) of those promises. If the NDP kept falling for these lies, they would have rightly been considered chumps.

Kirby Evans September 7, 2014 at 5:30 PM

I am amazed that some people still stand up for Horwath. Though I was never under any illusions about the Liberal Party being particularly "progressive," I know empirically that the NDP moved to the right. My local NDP candidate, a person I have met and who works with a number of my friends, appeared in public more than once speaking about the need to cut public jobs and control their supposedly rich pensions. He simply assured voters that the NDP would make the cuts more humanely and practically than Hudak.

Here is all we need to know - when the Liberals talked about increasing the minimum wage, Horwath disappeared from view for several days saying the she had to consult small business about the issue. When the Liberals introduced an Ontario pension (unarguably a once in a lifetime chance to build an important part of our social system) just as Jack Layton had once done with respect to the national child-care, Horwath decided to bring the government down. HOrwath not only moved the party to the right but she decided to play political games in a typical party attempt to gain seats instead of standing up for policies that will make significant long term improvements to people's lives. And, of course, her gambit failed miserably.

Don't make the bet Ms. Horwath, if you can't pay the bookie. Time to hang your head in shame and quit.

Scotian September 7, 2014 at 10:51 PM

And yet again you demonstrate why I find you always worth the time to read Kirby Evans. I was astounded that she did not offer her resignation after Wynne got that majority, because she threw away the balance of power for zero more seats and barely 1 percent increase in the polls, this despite having one of the best pre-election environments for a possible NDP government in Ontario since Rae's in 1990. I watched with increased amazement and disgust as she tried to replicate the Layton gambit in her Province with far less skill and trust from within her party, and clearly the Ontario Dipper leadership after watching what it got Layton and Canada with Harper wanted no repeat with Hudak in Ontario. This was not some massive marketing scheme cooked up by those somehow both near omnipotent and yet incompetent Liberals, this was a disaster made almost totally by Horwath herself, and an entirely foreseeable one at that.

The NDP in both Ontario and federally needs to either rediscover their roots or stop any pretense of being a party of the people, by the people, and for the people. You cannot claim to be both a party of strong left/progressive ideological convictions and a pragmatic centrist. It is time for the NDP to stop trying to eat their cake and have it. In doing so they are the reality of the image of the Liberals they love to portray their electoral rivals as, a party that stands for nothing but its own powerlust while pretending to have progressive principles.

It will be very interesting to see what happens with Horwath, for it will tell a lot about where the ONDP is headed. Will they show good judgment or will they allow someone who is clearly far more motivated by powerlust (one can have such while wanting to use it for principled means btw, but it still doesn't make it a good thing especially in a leader, Layton being an excellent example of this IMHO) than by good political judgment and leadership. We shall see. It is telling though that Hudak showed better accountability and personal responsibility for his failure than Horwath has, given just how disconnected in many respect Hudak was from reality. The ONDP is not in a good place at the moment, and I also wonder how much from that may spill over onto their federal cousins by the time of the next election, which given how powerful Ontario looms in the seat count of the HoC is not a small consideration, especially for the NDP and their traditional seats in that Province.

The Mound of Sound September 7, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Amen to that, Kirby.

Anonymous September 8, 2014 at 12:47 AM

The Wynne Liberals are going to cut frontline public jobs, cut public services and sell off public assets. Meanwhile, they will keep rewarding the public sector exectutives, high-level bureaucrats and outside consultants, They will also keep the no-strings-attached corporate tax cuts that have been provent to not stimulate the economy or create local jobs.


  1. It is interesting to me that Horwath likes to call herself the so-called "Steeltown Scapper." This is the typical kind of language promoted by the macho political culture of which Horwath is a sad but typical example. As long as our politicians continue to so readily embrace a culture of conflict as though politics operates on the Marquess of Queensberry Rules instead of simply being honest and forthright and looking after the interests of the people, then we will continue to fall victim to the kinds of leaders we have been getting.

    1. I completely agree, Kirby. The embrace of collaboration rather than confrontation would redound to everyone's benefit, but Horwath simply followed in the path of all of her predecessors instead. I remember her especially distasteful performance over a year ago when she kept coming up with new demands after earlier ones were met in exchange for her support of the budget.