With ‘cynical’ Trump victory and Trudeau ‘performance gap,’ NDP director sees opportunity

OTTAWA — After Donald Trump’s election victory, the NDP’s national is confident his party can offer a positive message to counter divisive politics — and push against a Trudeau government that’s seeing a growing “performance gap” — even though four months in, no one has joined its race.

“Part of the challenge we have on the left is to offer a positive vision that acknowledges have every reason to be angry or frustrated, but we shouldn’t direct our anger against our neighbour, against an immigrant,” Robert Fox said Tuesday.

TwitterNDP National Director Robert Fox

The policies Trump campaigned on included banning Muslim people from entering the U.S., deporting illegal immigrants and building a wall along the Mexican border.

In Canada’s Conservative leadership race, candidate Kellie Leitch has branded herself the “Canadian Trump” and is seeking a values test for immigrants.

“We … aren’t served by a Conservative that imports the worst tone and tactics that we’ve seen from the States,” Fox said. “It pushes people’s buttons. It gets people to the polls. But cynical, and corrosive.”

Only women stood to ask questions for the NDP during question period in the House of Commons Monday. Trade critic Tracey Ramsey tweeted a photo and included the #ImWithHer hashtag, usually used in solidarity with defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Status of women critic Sheila Malcolmson explained many women were feeling “very sad and very discouraged” that Trump was elected.

One of his election promises was to appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn a ruling legalizing abortion. Comments from Trump that belittled, insulted or objectified women, as well as the emergence of many sexual assault allegations against him, also featured heavily during the campaign.

While 62 per cent of Canadians were upset about the , 71 per cent of Canadian women were, according to an online poll of 1,515 people from the Angus Reid Institute.

Malcolmson said her caucus wanted to demonstrate, especially to young women, that “women have a strong voice in parliament and a rightful place in elected office, some of the very discouraging rhetoric and the election of a who appears to be a misogynist.”

Canada is “inevitably influenced” by what in the U.S. and Malcolmson said said she’s concerned people will think they have permission to “say racist, sexist, homophobic words in public,” since a presidential candidate didn’t seem to face consequences for such remarks.

While some progress is being made, there are many policies Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government could pursue — more than just having a gender-equal cabinet — “if (they) were really committed to gender equality,” suggested Malcolmson.

“Generally this government has been slow to legislate on anything. Its actual implementation of any concrete actions fall far behind the pace of other governments in the past,” she said.

Though a generally more-positive tone was welcome from Trudeau when he was elected a year ago, “every day the performance gap grows more evident,” Fox added.

To critics who doubt the NDP’s future because its federal leadership race, open since July, is empty, Fox says: “take a chill pill.” He expects most candidates will surface after the holidays.

While some leaders have been more “wonky” in the past — not a slur, he insists, because “I’m wonky myself” — he hopes to see a leadership who can really “communicate and engage and energize.”

Turnout was significantly down in the U.S. election, especially among , so “we see, powerfully, what happens when you don’t do that.”

A first leadership debate is being planned for the spring, probably in March. Ballots begin next September, and a leader will be chosen in October.

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