NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the media after Question Period in Ottawa, May 17, 2012.
Credits: Andre Forget / QMI AGENCY
It's early days. But watching NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair destroy himself, as he is now inarguably doing with his anti-West tirades, makes for compelling theatre.
In politics, no wound is ever as deep as the self-inflicted one. And Mulcair - with his stubborn insistence that he is right and everyone else is wrong - has become a case study in political self-immolation.
By now, the nub of his argument is well-known. Our booming resources sector, centred in Western Canada, is artificially inflating the Canadian dollar. The high dollar hurts our manufacturing sector, principally based in Eastern Canada.
A rainbow coalition comprising western premiers, the Conservative government, and the federal Liberal party have excoriated Mulcair for his willingness to pit one region against another. They have hammered him for his cynical attempt to win seats in the East by killing jobs in the West. But the NDP leader is undeterred. If you disagree with him, you are one of Stephen Harper's "messengers." If you marshal economic evidence disputing his argument -- and plenty have - he will simply say that "everyone" knows he is right.
Arrogance, conceit and ignorance aren't anything new in politics. They're ever-present. But Mulcair's attack on the region that, more than any other, has helped ease Canada through a grinding global recession is truly breathtaking. It takes political ego and stupidity to a level heretofore untouched by other mortals. So, as the NDP leader continues his downward descent, pulling his unhappy caucus along with him, we should ask ourselves: Is a political strategy that seeks to whip up regional resentments a good one? Can it work? Of course it can. Without a doubt.
Canada's history is, sadly, replete with examples of politicians who were able to achieve success by attacking Canadians who live elsewhere.
In the Atlantic, potentates like Danny Williams built political empires by flinging mud at Canada, or other Canadians. With Williams, that nadir was reached when the-then Newfoundland premier ordered the Canadian flag to be ripped down from government buildings, because he - like Mulcair - was angry about energy policy. And in Quebec, of course, there is a long and storied history of premiers, and governments, who have diminished Canada with xenophobia and solipsism. And it got them re-elected, time after time.
So, if Mulcair's strategy is to profit from pitting one region against another, it can certainly work. If he is a provincial premier, that is.
Aspiring prime ministers and national political parties are supposed to speak for all Canadians, not just a few. Their task is to bring us all together - however challenging that may be - and not to drive us apart.
Thomas Mulcair is playing a very dangerous game. My fervent wish is that it politically destroys him - utterly, irrevocably - and not the country he claims to represent.
He is, so early on, a bloody disgrace.