It's not that we have anything against political talkfests. On the contrary, they're our idea of a good time. But there's something about the NDP convention planned for Winnipeg in November that's giving us the willies. It's nothing against the Peg. And, no, we're not pining to be in front of the tube watching the Grey Cup, also skedded for that weekend.
It's that the convention is shaping up to be a weekend of wheel-spinning just when the party needs to get going.
We salute the New Politics Initiative spearheaded by Judy Rebick and MP Svend Robinson to transform the party into a viable political alternative. But even they've scaled down their expectations of the November confab.
Sadly, it comes down to the fact that the party is badly in need of new leadership. The NDP is dying in the caretaker custody of Alexa McDonough. Can the Canadian left wait another year and a half for a replacement? We think not.
The party's federal council meets next month in Ottawa. We call on them to give Alexa her walking papers and to schedule a leadership convention ASAP.
To whet appetites, we offer one candidate to consider, someone you know well. Someone who might just have what the moment requires. Introducing Jack Layton, the contender.Left side of brain: Houses a big ego and progressive credentials that are beyond reproach.
Supported hissy-fit-prone Svend Robinson last time and would bring in the kind of young, idealistic crew who rallied behind that BC MP.
The future of the NDP (or whatever it morphs into) is in urban Canada, which is sadly under-represented in the federal caucus.Right side of brain: For consensus-building and compromise. He's come a long way since he scared the pants off the toney north Toronto set with that ill-fated run for mayor back in the last century. He's learned how to bring them onside.
Jawbone: Square, made for TV the guy actually looks better on the tube.
Eyes: Sparkling with idealism and confidence. They can spot a photo-op a kilometre away. Unlike the wooden Alexa, Jack will finally be able to get the NDP some coverage in Toronto. We're the media capital of Canada, remember?
Nose: Can sniff out a political opportunity while most pols are still wading through the morning papers.
Mouth: Put a microphone in front of it and watch it go. It has a tendency to talk at you. But it can smile and gab at the same time. And it can speak French.
Other assets: Olivia. Yes, his wife, councillor Chow. They're the Bill and Hillary of downtown. She can help him plot strategy during the day, and re-evaluate pillow-to-pillow at night.
Currently: City councillor, ward 30 (Broadview-Greenwood). That's the turf of bizarre Liberal MP Dennis Mills federally. Jack couldn't knock him off when he ran against him two elections ago. But as federal leader, he could put Mills where we'd like to see him in retirement.
· President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities. That's a great way to get noticed in parts of the country where he's not a household name.
· President, Toronto Atmospheric Fund
· City council sustainability advocate
· Co-chair homelessness advisory committee
· Chair, cycling committee
· Vice-chair, Toronto Hydro