Others have responded to Chantal Hebert's latest
by pointing out her past track record of telling the NDP when to change leaders
. But even leaving that history aside, it's worth seriously questioning her assumptions.
To start with, I'm rather less certain than Hebert that even Stephen Harper will be out of the picture altogether by the next federal election, if only due to his suppression of any viable successors within his own party.
Given enough time (a majority or stable minority arrangement), a resignation and leadership race would be a logical course of action for the Cons. But if another election looks plausible in the near future, I wouldn't expect either Harper to step down willingly, or his party to assemble any movement to oust him. And in the event of an election either during a leadership campaign or after a new leader has flopped, Harper has made sure he's effectively the only person the Cons could ask to step in on short notice.
More importantly for my purposes, though, Hebert looks to be far off base in trying to guess what the NDP's priorities will be.
Once again, the most likely range of outcomes on election day involves a minority Parliament - meaning both that experience and readiness will be at a premium in navigating difficult political negotiations, and that another election will loom in the near future. And neither of those realities would point toward the knee-jerk disposal of a popular, respected leader who's just led the NDP to its second-best seat count ever.
And weighed against those reasons for the NDP to encourage Mulcair to stay on is...what, exactly?
Mulcair's leadership runner-up relied on a core group of supporters who have since been brought back into the fold to run the current campaign. So there's little reason or basis for them to back a challenge based on any perceived missed opportunity. And there's been no indication of hard feelings within the NDP caucus or among its past leadership contenders that would leave anybody eager for a fight.
As a result, any ouster would have to result from an insurgent campaign drawing almost entirely on people outside of the NDP's caucus and party apparatus. But a minority Parliament would offer a chance for Mulcair to push the key policies which most motivate the NDP's grassroots as the price of support. And whether he manages to bring those policies into effect or highlights the fact that it's other parties who are blocking them, there wouldn't be a great deal of motivation to criticize him so long as Mulcair sticks to his longtime practice of generally (if not invariably) following the path previously set by the party's membership.
That leaves the possibility of Mulcair stepping down by choice. But here, let's look again at Mulcair's choices in joining and leading the NDP.
In 2007, Mulcair chose to run for a party in fourth place nationally with no seats in Quebec, and whose main asset was its popular leader who expected and hoped to be around for some time to come. If anybody had told Mulcair he'd be a respected national leader contending for power in a three-party race in 2015 only to (as so many people have phrased it) peak at the wrong time, would that have been seen as grounds for abandoning ship?
Moreover, the NDP's path toward government was never without some hiccups. The 2008 election most certainly didn't achieve all the NDP hoped, and the nomination window for 2011 saw the party fall to the low teens at a point when there was an opportunity to bail out.
Through those far more difficult times, Mulcair and the rest of the party kept fighting - the party winning Official Opposition status in 2011, Mulcair winning the leadership in 2012, and both subsequently reaching heights never before achieved.
Of course, if the party can't scale those heights again in this campaign, it will represent at least somewhat of a disappointment based on short-term expectations. But that represents reason to determine how to do better - not to follow the Libs' destructive course of perpetually sacking leaders and trashing institutional memory, only to make the same mistakes over and over again as a result.
While the pundit class may lack an attention span beyond the narrative of the day, I'd anticipate more perspective from Mulcair and the NDP alike. And so I'd hope and expect that we'll see Mulcair lead the NDP into the future.