Last year, provincial New Democrat supporters Doug McArthur and Bill Tieleman questioned the party's performance in the legislature. And, speaking on Public Eye Radio yesterday morning, former New Democrat government caucus communications director Brad Zubyk also raised concerns about the future of the party. Said Mr. Zubyk, "This is what you get when you have - for the first time in history - an Opposition party whose strategic direction is entirely based on 'let's be nice.' They remind me sometimes of a kid trying to be on his best behaviour so his parents buy him a bike then they do a political party trying to solicit votes. And there's a lack of vision and leadership in there. And it creates a culture where you don't want to make a decision."
So is it time for the New Democrats to change their leader? "I don't know what it's time for. But they've got to get a game on and stop pretending that being nice is going to win them one more vote. They're eight to ten points behind (in the public opinion polls) in year two. I mean it's a lack of respect. You've watched question period, the government doesn't respect them. The government members have a lot of fun. You've seen it. You're down there."
"They won't take a position on anything," he continue. "The narrative we're talking about right now is emerging. So I guess the question is, 'Do you want to be absolutely useless but nice? Or do you want to actually function like an Opposition and function like someone who wants to win government and maybe make friends?'"
Mr. Zubyk said New Democrat strategists often tell him the party's public opinion negatives are low. But that's not surprising given the Opposition "doesn't say anything. (Former American president Bill) Clinton's negatives were high. (Former prime minister Jean) Chretien's negatives were high. (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper's negatives were high. And guess what? They all win. So they really need to give this thing a look and make some changes."