It isn’t everyday that you hear of a federal opposition leader being secretly a part of a separatist party in the past. It isn’t everyday that the same person has two memberships with separatist parties and tries to brush them off saying that she believed in every value but separation. With two parties under her wing that share the separatist trait, and with 5 years of loyalty to them, it is no secret that she is a separatist and well, the NDP could have done much better than her anyway.
Turmel reminds me of Stephane Dion. She doesn’t seem to be a strong leader, and based on the latest controversy, she is getting slammed by the media – and for once they have a point.
However, despite being the female version of Stephane Dion – I think we all remember how that went – there is one thing that she got that Dion didn’t, a massive amount of people defending her from the media. For this, I am disappointed that an intellectual who lead the UN’s Climate Change committee in the 1990s and brought us Kyoto, a man who introduced the Clarity Act that defined how Canada should deal with separatists – that Jack Layton purposely ignored – got smashed and ridiculed and his female equivalent in the NDP party is being vigorously defended for her obvious disrespect to national unity.
Times come and go, and seeing the character similarities between Turmel and Dion and the way the public has reacted, it now boils down to either how hypocritical the populace of Canada really is or how pathetic or non-existent Liberal supporters are when it comes to standing their ground.
CBC’s French station RDI had an interview with an NDP staffer who preferred to remain nameless – I don’t blame him as anyone who sparks division in the NDP will be attacked by the hounds.
He says that the party is in unease because they did not know of her ties before giving her the balance of power in their party.
"The profound unease that's taken over the party is that there was a large number of people, the majority of people, who voted didn't know then. And that's a very, very serious unease, because it's a crisis of confidence.
"When we take a party membership, it's not a sign of friendship.... It's a commitment, it's an adherence to a philosophy," he said.
"You can't lead a federalist party when you were sufficiently involved in a separatist party or parties."
Turmel was the NDP caucus chair and unanimously became the NDP interim leader when Jack Layton was forced to take a temporary leave due to his deteriorating health.
With all this footage at play, Turmel responded.
"We worked hard last week. The people in the caucus, the MPs, backed me and still back me."
Now, to put this into context, look at Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario, now interim Liberal leader. He knows well that people switch allegiances all the time, he was one of them. However, he said that joining a separatist party to help a friend doesn’t add up.
"You don't join a separatist party, a party that wants to break up the country, for five years because you're trying to help somebody out," he said.
"These answers don't make sense. If you follow them through, they just don't add up."
Liberal MP Stephane Dion wrote the Clarity Act and said that Turmel owed it to her voters to know where her allegiance stands. Before the spring election, she was questioned about her ties to the Bloc and she never mentioned a membership.
Dion wrote for Le Devoir, "The NDP run candidates in every riding in Quebec. Did Ms. Turmel judge the Bloc's social issues platform superior to the NDP's?"
With the last poll showing that the bulk of NDP supporters choosing Conservative as their second choice, if the NDP collapses, chances are there will be a strengthened majority Conservative government in 2015, but still quite a bit can happen between now and then and before the news of her separatist ties, she was just the NDP’s female equivalent of Stephane Dion to me.
Perhaps by 2015, the Liberals will have gotten their act together, or perhaps Canadians will forgive and forget, or perhaps Canadians will back Harper, or perhaps throw all of these parties out with a new party that forms out of the blue. The future is unpredictable, although Turmel’s run as leader will likely come to a soon end – regardless when and if Layton returns. The last thing they need is the separatist label and now that they have it, those coalition attacks from Harper are seeming more and more true, even though they weren’t.
For now, the NDP will have to work hard to lick their recent wombs, although Jack Layton’s iconic presence is what got the NDP this far, not the NDP itself, and frankly, without him the NDP is nothing, and without him, his party won’t stand a chance.