NDP leadership candidates aren’t all the same

Ella Henry - From College Hill to Parliament Hill (Tom Bateman/AQ)

It’s no secret that I’m pretty far to the left when it comes to politics. I support increasing taxes on corporations and the rich to pay increased investment in healthcare, education, pensions and affordable housing.

I want a Canada with more social and economic justice – that’s why I’m a member of the New Democratic Party.

But this column isn’t about why I support the NDP (or why I think you should).

What I want to talk about is the analysis and commentary on the NDP leadership race coming from political pundits and many journalists.

If I only read the editorial pages of major papers, it would be easy to think that the people running for the leadership of the NDP agree on everything. Since I haven’t decided who I’ll be supporting as the next leader, I’ve been paying close attention to the leadership race.

From the email updates sent from the candidates and the policies they’ve each put out, I see some pretty diverse platforms emerging. And in the debates I’ve watched, I certainly haven’t come away with the impression that the candidates agree on everything.

While the Republican debates in the U.S. might be entertaining to watch, I’m sure most people involved in a political party would agree that a nasty leadership race where candidates hurl insults at each other and play dirty isn’t the way to build a party able to work together at the end of the race.

But just because the NDP leadership candidates haven’t been nasty to each other, doesn’t mean they don’t disagree.

In the past, many journalists and prominent political commentators haven’t had to pay much attention to the NDP. Maybe that’s why they can’t pick out the disagreements between leadership candidates.

Here are some issues where I can see substantially different positions between candidates:

Israel-Palestine: An issue where there’s an incredibly wide range of positions.

Taxes: Although not all candidates have released their proposals for changes to the taxation, those that have come forward are diverse, with some focusing on income tax, others on sales tax and still others on eliminating corporate tax loopholes.

Co-operating with other political parties: While no one is suggesting a merger, there are a pretty wide range of ideas – from joint nominations with other parties to ways to co-operate in a minority government.

Job creation: All the candidates agree on the need to create jobs (though seriously, what politician disagrees with that?). But they all have different proposals on how to get there.

Tuition fees and student debt: Many candidates have concrete plans to make education more affordable, and this is something that affects us directly.

Of course there are some things the candidates agree on – they are in the same political party, after all. But headlines like “Amid ‘violent’ agreement, NDP excitement’s at a premium,” or “An NDP leadership debate, minus the debate,” are simply a symptom of lazy journalism.

While the National Post might think the eight candidates running for the leadership agree on everything, it’s just not true