Andrea Horwath's Ontario New Democrats starting to implode?
After just one year at the helm of the already leaky ship known as the Ontario New Democratic Party, under Andrea Horwath the ship maybe ready to sink as she continues to lose control over her party and her members.
Portrayed as the fresh, new and moderate face of the Ontario NDP to the public, within her party she is quickly gaining the reputation of old labour guard, hypocrite and autocrat if Facebook, Rabble, the Toronto Star and general political gossip are anything to go by.
Some party insiders say hypocrisy was a concern right from the Leadership Convention when the supposed "labour candidate" handed out hundreds of plastic novelty "Horwath" flashlights that were non-recyclable and made in China.
The past few weeks have added even more fuel to the speculation that the Ontario NDP is headed for implosion before the 2011 provincial election. Last week, Horwath appeared to stab fellow NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo in the back, calling her out for voting according to her conscience on a bill in the House. That was bad enough, but Horwath railed against the bill claiming that it silenced debate and muzzled activists; but two days later, she barred her MPPs for even attending, let alone speaking at an all-party discussion on Catholic school funding.
During the last few days a new controversy has started to leak out that if substantiated, could be a major blow to the party who has painted itself as the party of the workers and led by the darling of the unions. The Ontario NDP appears to be treating some of its employees in ways itself has called exploitation in the private sector. A source inside the Ontario NDP'S head office in Toronto claims that his boss, the party's Secretary and Horwath's former leadership campaign manager, told the dozen or so fundraisers that they have no job security and no union protection even though they pay monthly dues like everyone else. He said:
"She practically threatened to fire us. We raise thousands of dollars for them every week, we are underpaid, we pay union dues, the party gets to look like it's got ethical labour practices, yet we don't get the same benefits the leader is preaching for everyone else all over the province."
To be so blatantly and visibly hypocritical on labour rights must be new for the Ontario NDP. Horwath has spoken out against the use of contract workers, yet most of her fundraisers work from contract to contract.
One Horwath loyalist dismissed these controversies as just the"growing pains of a new leader". However, a member of the party's youth wing in Ottawa believes that these issues are part of a larger, looming split in the party between the old guard "who have run this party into the ground" and a new and growing progressive movement.
Whatever the case may be, it seems clear that Horwath is not making a great impression on her own people and that the next Ontario NDP leadership race may already be well under way.
PoliSci Tanya, Ottawa
The author studies political science in Ottawa, Canada and writes an Ontario political gossip column for her student union's internal blog. This is her first attempt at forum-posti