#ndpldr Is Quebec the key?

First, I’m going to try to tag the titles of future posts about the NDP leadership race with #ndpldr. This way if you don’t care you can skip over or if you do you can perk up. It also makes the posts a bit more obvious when they get posted to Twitter.

The quick question I want to consider this morning is this standard media narrative that whoever wins the NDP leadership must appease Quebec first and foremost.

The standard line of thought is that since the NDP elected 59 MPs in Quebec in May, that they will need a leader who is popular in Quebec and will win over the francophone vote to hold Fortress Layton. The argument is not without merit, the Quebec caucus counts for over half of the total NDP seats, but I still think it is misguided.

Poll numbers and Threehundredeight’s seat projections are starting to suggest that the NDP has reached a ceiling in Quebec. It’s possible that they may squeak a bit higher, but even the Conservatives have trouble breaking 60% in Alberta. Sure 60% will give you all but one seat, but there’s only 75 seats in Quebec. A gain of 15% in Quebec would translate to 10-12 more seats in total while potentially risking seats in BC and Alberta to Western isolationism.

In the next election there will be 30 new MPs. 3 of these MPs will come from Quebec while 27 will be scattered across BC, Alberta, and Ontario. If the NDP wants to form the next government, they need to win these provinces. Ontario alone will account for over 1/3 of the seats in the country.

The NDP currently has no seats in Saskatchewan despite winning 32% of the vote there. Meanwhile they only have 35 seats in BC, Alberta, and Ontario combined (minus one vacated by Jack Layton, RIP). In 2014 these four provinces will total 211 seats.

Whoever wants to be the next prime minister doesn’t need to win Quebec. He or she needs to be able to hold the majority of those seats, but also needs to reach out strongly to the West.

The NDP was born in the West, now it’s time to take it back.