As a Canadian secular progressive who has followed US politics closely for a few years and is just now making a serious effort to get into Canadian politics, I have not been impressed with how I’ve seen the NDP deal with the Berthier-Maskinonge, Quebec riding.
Firstly, their selection of Ruth Ellen Brosseau – a 27 year old Ottawa native whom had never stepped foot in the Berthier-Maskinonge riding prior to today (more than a week after her successful candidacy), has a less-than-fluent grasp of French, and possesses zero political or relevant work experience or education – absolutely befuddles me. This is the best candidate they could field? Really? They couldn’t find a single bilingual NDPer in the district with relevant political, work and/or educational background? Heck, they couldn’t find a person with a single one of those qualities?! I’m relatively new to the ins and outs of Canadian politics, so tell me:
Did I manage to not hear about some sort of “So You Think You Can Be A Canadian Politician” TV show?
Secondly, I wish NDP leadership would not attempt to exploit the political inattentiveness of many Canadian (and/or insult their intelligence) by pretending that the citizens that elected Brosseau were actually voting for her. For example, Jack Layton said today that voters in the riding expressed confidence in Brosseau. They weren’t voting for her. They were voting for Layton and the NDP. Unless the name next to the NDP logo was “Paul Bernardo” or some other social pariah, the people that voted for Brosseau would have voted for whatever other NDP candidate they were presented with, and the NDP leadership knows this (though, they probably figured that her fairly good looks only stood to help her chances).
I’m not against the NDP. Nor am I against the use of placeholder candidates. Given the structure of the Canadian electoral system, it would be absolutely stupid for a political party to not field a candidate in every riding it could – why forfeit per-vote subsidies and a chance of winning the seat? I’m also not against people voting for placeholder candidates; it is often a very sensible move. I’m just dumbfounded as to how, of all potential placeholders, it was Brosseau that was selected. And not because there’s anything wrong with her; she’s just patently not a suitable candidate for the job. And I’m annoyed that the leadership is attempting to pretend that her candidacy was anything but a blind-folded Hail Mary.