Drew Brown on NDP’s Three Leadership Candidates

Drew Brown's summary of the three men in the running to run NL's NDP party.

earlemccurdy EARLE MCCURDY
Spoiler alert: Earle McCurdy is going tobe the next leader of the NL NDP.

There are a few reasons for this. Spending twenty years (1994-2014) at the head of the Fish, Food, and Allied Workers union gives him the longest resume, the most name recognition, and the most street cred – as far as most social democrats are concerned, anyway. Given how much of the NDP is powered by union donations and volunteers, McCurdy also comes with a ready-made war chest and the lion’s share of provincial working class power (whatever that amounts to in the Year of Our Lord Two-thousand fifteen). He’s also backed by the party establishment and its most prominent members, which puts him at a decided advantage over his competitors. It’s not clear what specific vision he has for the party, but that doesn’t really seem to matter because most of the membership is ready to fall in line behind whatever it turns out to be.

He’s the safest and most traditional bet for the NDP, especially given that they will come out of the leadership and straight into an election battle just a few months later. The man’s cut his teeth on the front lines of the class struggle, and that sort of experience is an asset going into a moment of financial austerity. But whether “safe and traditional” translates into “stability” – or “stagnation” – for a party in desperate need of a structural overhaul remains to be seen.Still though. He’s going to win, so we should get used to it now.

chrisbruceChris Bruce

For the last year and half or so, dissident dipper Chris Bruce has been on something of a political odyssey. After the party’s implosion in October 2013, he very publicly quit his position on the party’s executive board to protest Lorraine Michael’s (perceived) petty Stalinism. He wandered many months in the wilderness trying to rebuild the Green Party in Newfoundland and Labrador – a Sisyphean task if ever there was one – and now he has returned to claim the orange throne. Democratically, of course.

He’s also served as both Opposition Leader and Premier in the NL Youth Parliament. Given that the NLYP takes parliamentary decorum more seriously than most MHAs, he may actually be overqualified for the job(s).

Bruce has a vivid political imagination and a deep moral gravitas. He came into the race with a clear programme – diversify the province’s energy production and distribution, reform the corporate tax system, and expand pharmacare coverage. He’d also like to “get money out of politics” by banning corporate and union donations from political campaigns. Considering that the NDP is effectively bankrolled by organized labour (and that equating unions with Big Business contradicts the central premise of social democracy), this last plank is unlikely to win Bruce many friends in the membership. Then again, no one said doing the right thing would be easy – only that it would be worth it. Don’t stop believin’, etc.

mikegoosneyMike Goosney

Mike Goosney’s candidacy pretty much came out of left field. Goosney is a steelworker and former Labrador City municipal councillor, as well as a former provincial board member with Advanced Education and Skills. He had previously gone after the federal NDP nomination in the 2013 Labrador by-election, but was outplayed by Harry Borlase. All things considered, it’s definitely not a bad thing to see a Labradorian in the running for a provincial party leadership. Lord knows the Big Land could always use more representation in provincial politics.

Goosney’s committed to expanding accessible healthcare, cutting red tape around trades education and employment in the province (which I take to mean de-regulating the Advanced Education and Skills portfolio), and rebuilding the provincial NDP. Ideally, he would also like to see the NDP hold the balance of power in a provincial minority government. That would be awesome, but it’s not totally clear how he would get there.

Otherwise, Goosney’s a bit of a man of mystery. I don’t really know what else to put in this profile. He seems best kind, though, and that’s half the battle. “Mike Goosney: Best Kind.” You could set your watch to a slogan like that, yessir.

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