Sunday, June 25, 2006

$$ Scandal Political Fallout - NDP

It's been widely reported that Randy Collins is one of the four (so far) involved in the constituency allowance overdraws.

It might be premature to try to predict the fallout that will rain on each party as a result of this mess but it's worthwhile trying anyway. I'm going to look at the NDP this time and I'll follow up with the other parties as matters unfold further.

I think the future of the NDP is already clear - it's dark and grim.

In general, one of the party's strengths has always been that it's different from the other parties - cleaner and more ethical without the kind of petty base corruptions that the other parties are famous for. That's all gone now. They have demonstrated that all that self-righteousness was but empty finger-wagging and hot air. In the end they have no more claim to the moral high ground than any other party.

In more specific terms, right now they have they have two members in the House and a Leader sitting outside.

Randy Collins appears to be the NDP member implicated in this mess. (By the way I was very impressed with the speed and alacrity with which Mr. Harris cut loose his benchmate and close comrade - nice job.) Collins won his seat in Labrador West by a slim 156 votes in 1999 and a much more healthy 1600 votes in 2003.

What's his future? If the charges of gross over-expenses are true, then his most likely future will be resignation from the House, jail time and repayment of the monies taken. As for his seat, under other circumstances, of all the seats in province, his seat is one of the ones most likely to go NDP under most circumstances. It's strong union environment and it has a history of going NDP in the past (see the career of Peter Fenwick).

But with his resignation under these circumstances, it's anybody's guess where it will go. And my guess is that it's no more likely to go NDP than any other seat in the province. That's means they are unlikely to keep it in any election or byelection for the next while.

Jack Harris, the outgoing leader and member from Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, only ever won by the slimmest of margins. The new leader, Lorraine Michael has only a very limited chance of ever taking Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi in my, hers, or anybody else's lifetime.

All this leaves the party in a very bad spot. They were electorally marginal to begin with. The party image has been based on being squeaky clean and now that brand has been badly damaged. They have only two seats with the more secure one being held by the now-damaged Randy Collins with no reason to expect them to hold it in the future. The outgoing leader is vacating a barely held seat and the incoming leader has little chance of holding it.

My guess is that the NDP will be entering a cold spell with no members in the House at all. Collins will resign, Harris will resign and the NDP will lose both seats in the elections that follow.

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