MONTREAL – New Democrats were divided Saturday about whether to set up a Quebec wing of their party that would add a left-leaning, federalist voice to the provincial political arena.
There was no clear consensus as Quebec party delegates debated the issue at a weekend meeting in Montreal.
Some argued setting up a provincial party cousin would provide voters with a much-needed alternative to the sovereigntist parties that occupy the left end of Quebec’s political spectrum. Others worried it would steal away resources that could be used to beat the federal Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
One thing appeared certain, though: it won’t happen any time soon.
“If ever we decided to create a Quebec NDP, it won’t be for today or tomorrow or in six months or a year,” Helene Laverdiere, a Montreal MP for the New Democrats, said in an interview.
“Everyone is clear that the priority is 2015 and beating Stephen Harper.”
Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, another Montreal MP, said ultimately the decision would be up to party members.
“There’s a committee being formed to study what was heard today and we’ll wait to hear what they say about that,” she said.
Party leader Tom Mulcair floated the idea of a provincial New Democratic Party during the Quebec election campaign in August. At the time, Mulcair said the NDP would set up a Quebec wing before the next provincial election.
But Mulcair put that commitment on hold after the Parti Quebecois’ minority victory on Sept. 4, saying resources should be devoted to the next federal election.
Another consideration, though, may be allegiances at the provincial level among card-carrying New Democrats. Some party members are also involved with pro-sovereignty parties provincially, such as the left-wing Quebec solidaire.
NDP president Rebecca Blaikie acknowledged that dynamic “complicates things.”