By: Connor Stephenson, SFU Student
Jagmeet Singh and his New Democratic Party are riding the perpetual struggle bus. The troubles for the NDP initially began with difficulty attempting to nominating candidates across the country, and continues in the form of a crippling deficit that makes running a successful campaign much more difficult. The party’s $1.4 million dollar deficit for 2018 is not a good look for Singh and his party, as they claim to be competent enough to balance the national budget and run Canada’s economy. However, I suppose a lack of appeal is an inherent quality of the NDP more generally, being that they have never won a federal election
Given that the NDP have done a relatively poor job at managing their finances, they have had to modify their strategy and budget what resources they have available. For example, the federal NDP campaign (which launched out of Ontario) has had to rent a plane by the hour instead of purchasing one, as is standard. Their financial dilemma, in addition to making it more difficult to travel, has also forced Singh and his campaign to depend on more creative and nuanced outreach approaches, such as running more targeted digital advertisements to disseminate their message to Canadians.
As for their initial struggle to nominate candidates, the NDP cited equal representation and a rigorous vetting process as their reasons. This is a valid point as the vetting process has undoubtedly been made a much more arduous task, given the ubiquity of social media and the long-term effects that negative content could have on potential candidates’ political careers. The necessity of equal representation within the party is also unequivocally important. However, although the NDP struggled to secure candidates in the beginning, they have now managed, surprisingly, to fill all of the ridings across Canada.
Clearly, the results of their campaign strategies have not manifested in a positive way as they are not making marked advancements in the polls; they have been hovering around 14% since mid-June. This is in part due to the fact that they aren’t really doing anything out of the norm in terms of marketing themselves. They are simply spending less money on travel and advertisement — the NDP spent approximately $130,500 on Facebook advertisements, compared with the Liberal’s $692,600, and the Conservative’s $438,500.
What is evident from their standing in the polls is that the NDP are having a difficult time competing in this election cycle. The NDP’s struggle to nominate candidates in the months leading up to the campaign and their financial woes have made their objective to win a majority government seem rather unlikely.
Nevertheless, they are very much still in the game if there is an opportunity to form a coalition government. This should be Singh’s objective instead. Rather than going at it alone, as he has previously expressed, Singh would be in a better position if he were to demonstrate that his party’s platform could mesh well with the Green and/or Liberal parties. Although they differ on some issues, relative to the Conservatives, the Liberals, Greens, and NDP are more alike than they are different.