Will federal NDP Halifax “physic” but prolong party’s electoral underperformance?

This weekend’s NDP convention in Halifax is supposed to herald a new era in the party, which will, the NDP hopes, lead to more seats in the next federal election. Will that actually happen? John Ivison of the National Post, who ordinarily laughs at NDP policy pronouncements, suggested on August 7 that there’s an outside chance the Halifax gab-fest, unlike previous NDP conventions, might actually produce solid policy:

Absent this time will be the spam of lunatic resolutions from the party’s fringe members such as 2006’s proposal to have a trans-gender Day of Remembrance; the proposition from one riding association that the entire economy be nationalized; and, the motion from another constituency to have Canada withdraw from NORAD, NATO and the WTO.

Unfortunately, the NDP appears to have already adopted, without debate and prior to the convention, a resolution whose lunacy matches or exceeds that of the three humdingers in Ivison’s litany: to develop a national energy security policy that explicitly rules out nuclear power. I just watched party national director Brad Levigne explain this perfectly politically correct proposal to the CBC’s Andrew Nichols.

(Full disclosure: though I also laugh at most of what the NDP says I have found it difficult to change my federal voting habits to reflect this. Call it loyalty to family tradition.)

The pre-emptive anti-nuclear stance tells me the dippers really do worry about the Greens stealing their votes, though they make a big deal out of attacking Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Which in turn tells me they still understand neither hard policy nor electoral strategy. And that it’s time for me to invent a new family tradition.

“This physic [the Halifax convention] but prolongs thy sickly days.”

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11 years ago

Hi Steve – I am sure that you know what I am going to say here. The NDP wants votes. The Canadian public does not understand, fears, and therefore hates nuclear power. Policy statements about reducing nuclear power would seem like a reasonable position to take if you want more votes. You cant blame the party here – they are only swimming with the current. The fact that the river is heading for a ten thousand meter waterfall is another matter – something to worry about when we get there. Canadians are going to get the energy solution they deserve. At present it looks like it will be nuclear free and gas fueled. It could be worse; it could be coal. So things are getting better. The good enough solution always blocks out the perfect solution. If we see ten thousand people marching in the streets, shouting “We want more reactors” you can count on the political parties having pro-nuclear position statements the next day.

Who benefits if Canada builds more reactors. Well, you and I do since more reactors increase the chance that our grandchildren will have a place to live. It makes sense for us to keep blogging about the virtues of nuclear power, trying to mobilize that ten thousand person marching crowd. A few companies that make and operate reactors also benefit, so I would expect to see lots of pro-nuclear advertising from them. I see almost nothing, which makes we wonder what they are doing. I guess the government should also benefit from royalties and taxes but they dont seem to be doing anything to maximize these benefits. It seems that collecting such royalties and taxes is just too much work for our strained bureaucracy. All this leaves me sitting here rather grouchy and pessimistic. Can enough Canadians learn enough math and physics to allow them to develop a pronuclear attitude fast enough, join that ten thousand person protest march, and avoid the approaching fall? I dont think so, but I am going to keep writing pronuclear comments all the same.

11 years ago

Randal, again I hope you’re wrong. No doubt many Canadians casually hate the atom. However, I think this opposition is wide but not deep. A good strategy for communicating the unmatched benefits of nuclear power, competently implemented, would fix the problem.

Which leads me to another of your observations: where is the industry? Here we are in the middle of a serious recession. Ontario is crying for high-paying, long-term, high-skilled jobs. Ontario is governed by a party that says it is concerned about clean air and climate change. At the federal level there is a trans-party consensus that massive infrastructure spending is necessary. Everyone except for gas-industry lobbyists agrees we need to add more than 3,000 MW of new nuclear capacity at Darlington. Ontario could, at the stroke of a pen, create a couple thousand high-quality jobs right now. And yet everybody—from politicians at the federal and provincial levels, to mainstream commentators on economy/energy/environment, to media—is missing in action. Except Areva, which is interesting. Maybe it takes a foreigner’s view to see these opportunities.

The NDP says it is in favour of creating jobs, and supporting unions. Adding twin reactors at Darlington would accomplish both objectives immediately. This party is simply nowhere near ready for The Show.

11 years ago

I feel the same way about the “industry”. There just does not seem to be any promotional energy at all. Where are the advertisements, the public demonstrations, the tours of existing facilities, the junk mail deluge. Could a small reactor be built and operated at a breakeven level. Why dont we have a few of these on the go? And there are lots of ships running in the great lakes – why not a demonstration of something like a reactor powered ship? Everyone seems to be frozen, waiting for the next RFP. Hoo-boy, an RFP from Ontario should generate a lot of laughs. Fool me once – shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.