The NDP is conducting a review of its national campaign to find out what happened to its ground game, which left the party with limited wins and in fourth place despite investing $ 25 million in the pot to enhance its appeal.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s campaign tour followed a planned trajectory to grow the caucus, visiting 51 ridings mostly owned by the Liberals or Conservatives. But the NDP is increasing its number to 24 seats with just one seat.
“I am disappointed that we did not elect more MPs … and that we did not significantly increase the size of our caucus, because that was the goal,” said Anne McGrath, National Director of the NDP , in an interview with TBEN News.
Some New Democrats want accountability because they feel they lacked the resources and training at the constituency level to get the ball rolling.
“People talked about the coming of an orange wave, but the reality was no work was being done on the ground,” said Jessa McLean, president of the York – Simcoe NPD Riding Association in Ontario.
“There was no one to make sure that people who needed to drive to the polls could do so, reminding them to get to the advance poll, to get to the last day, telling them how to do the polls. mail-in ballots, telling them how to do it. this.”
Calls for leadership change
McLean, who unsuccessfully ran for NDP president earlier this year, has said she wants McGrath to step down.
“The reason they are keeping it is to put another mark next to this horrible strategy that has basically caused us to lose ground,” said McLean. “She has to go.”
If the NDP’s strategy doesn’t change, McLean said, Singh should also step down.
“If we just put it in his picture, where will we be when he leaves,” McLean said.
TBEN News brought the concerns to McGrath, who said she had no plans to step down and Singh was not going anywhere.
“There is a special level of vitriol reserved for women in leadership positions in this country,” McGrath said. “In my experience, sometimes it takes a few elections for things to freeze.”
McGrath, who was chief of staff to former NDP leader Jack Layton, noted that she had gone through four elections in nearly a decade before triggering an orange wave that swept into the role of the opposition official by winning 103 seats in the 2011 vote.
She said Singh has grown as a leader since running for the 2019 federal election.
McGrath also noted that the NDP has increased its share of the popular vote, from 16% in 2019 to almost 18% in this election. She believes the party is laying the foundation for growth.
“More must be done to support local constituencies”
But McGrath also believes a lack of voting on campus, long lines for ballot boxes and fewer polling stations – some absent from Indigenous communities – suppressed the NDP vote.
“One of the reasons for holding the election at that time was to maintain a low turnout in order to re-elect the government of the day,” McGrath said.
“I believe that young voters and native voters in particular have been disenfranchised. “
McGrath said NDP fundraising is still strong and that she is confident the party will have the finances to fight in the next election.
WATCH | NDP tries to get the vote out using TikTok
But McLean said NDP donations to York-Simcoe, a Tory stronghold, dried up after the party had to fight first in a February 2019 by-election and then an October 2019 election. She said the constituency’s resources were still depleted when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the election in August this year.
McLean said his constituency can usually count on reimbursements for campaign expenses from Elections Canada – money that usually goes to candidates and helps constituency associations or constituencies – but the NDP head office kept all of the money. reimbursements in 2019 and again this year.
McLean said the money was usually collected at nomination meetings, but his constituency did not hold any until the snap election called for September 20.
“We ended up with almost no funds to start this campaign, and we didn’t find out who our candidate would be until a week after the campaign started,” McLean said.
“By the time we went to our members and said, ‘Oh, we have a candidate now,’ we looked completely disorganized. We didn’t look like something people wanted to plug money into. “
The decision to keep Elections Canada’s campaign discounts was made by the NDP Federal Council.
“We take the discounts so that we can have an effective central campaign,” said McGrath. “But I agree that more needs to be done to support local constituencies.”
Why didn’t the likes seem to translate into votes?
Gabriel Masi, co-chair of the Young NPDs of Quebec, said he would like to see the NDP increase its presence on campus and believes the party needs new young leaders at the top.
That said, Masi said the future success of the NDP depends on Singh.
“If we hadn’t had a leader that people considered a great person, I don’t even think we would have done the way we did,” Masi said.
“It is incredibly dangerous to remove someone who is so popular.”
WATCH | NDP targets youth vote
Other New Democrats, who spoke to TBEN, said they also supported Singh, but wanted him to spend more time talking about his plan and policies rather than attacking Trudeau.
They said they believed the party did not come up with enough bold and progressive ideas to motivate voters, such as offering free post-secondary education or nationalizing telecommunications.
Many New Democrats also believe strategic voting has worked against them, especially in places like the Greater Toronto Area where the NDP has been kicked out.
Almost half of the NDP’s $ 25 million campaign budget was spent on advertising, social media and online.
While the strategy didn’t appear to result in a wave of new votes, Masi believes it was money well spent, especially to counter the prejudices some people may have against Singh.
“His image was an asset for us,” Masi said.
“We got a lot of comments from people in the Montreal area saying that I really like him, that he’s nice.”
Going forward, Masi said the party should take some of the social media money and invest it to get the vote out.
“The organization of the ground game has to start now and we have to make sure we have this local infrastructure,” Masi said.