A good opposition should be a good government in waiting.

Mike Harcourt was only partly right in his sweeping criticism as he ambled away from the once powerful now fragile New Democratic Party. He was justified in condemning the way the party caucus did a “You, too, Brutus” on former leader Carole James a few years ago, probably because his own caucus did a similar job on him back in the late 90’s.

He was right, too, in hammering current party leader Adrian Dix for permitting such a shoddily run election campaign last year, an election pollsters and pundits forecast the NDP would win handily. He was right,  when he endorsed what the party has already decided, that Dix has run his brief unremarkable course and should now exit stage left as gracefully as possible.

But I think the old warrior did himself and the NDP a disservice when he failed to mention that Carole James had not exactly portrayed Joan of Arc in her attempts to lead New Democrats out of the wilderness. And I think the old Premier was a little unfair to Dix to suggest his flip flop on the Kinder Morgan pipeline issue turned a favorable NDP tide to turn and help destroy their hope of returning to office.

What ruined the Dix-NDP campaign last year was the fact that the Party offered no program of hope for the future. No solid all round plans for progress. It’s the same reason the NDP has lost every election since 2001. It’s the same reason they will lose the next election and the one after that unless they can elect not just a solid leader, but enough people to form a caucus with ideas, with workable plans, plans designed to give people hope and confidence in the future.

For far too long the NDP has forgotten its real role in political life – that of a government in waiting. It has concentrated on whining and complaining  when it should have been concentrating on ideas and policies for the benefit of us all.

Maybe they will surprise me but I don’t see “steady at the helm” Mike Farnworth, or “to the barricades” John Horgan, offering practical hope or of being able to recruit the crew quality the old ship needs to get it sailing from pending sunset to a new sunrise.

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