OTTAWA – The New Democratic Party feels good; so well, in fact, that one of its top officials openly predicts that it will win seats in this summer’s federal election.
“I think we will definitely have more MPs after this next campaign,” NDP National Director Anne McGrath told the Star days before the September 20 election campaign began on Sunday.
“It will be the first time in a decade that we will increase the size of the caucus.”
That’s a reference to the 2011 election, when Jack Layton led the NDP to its best result. In the two elections since then, the party has lost dozens of seats. But now the new Democrats have more money, better poll results and higher hopes for leader Jagmeet Singh’s prowess in the election campaign.
This is how the NDP voting machine is trying to make McGrath’s prediction come true.
More money, less problems?
Haunted by fundraising problems ahead of the last campaign, the NDP enters this year’s race with at least $ 24 million to spend, more than double the $ 10.5 million it spent in 2019.
“We’re spending more on advertising this campaign than we spent the entire campaign last time, so that’s pretty significant,” McGrath said.
He said the increase is the result of better fundraising after donations plummeted from $ 18.6 million in 2015 to around $ 5.2 million in 2018. The match raised more than $ 8 million in 2019 , about $ 6 million through the pandemic in 2020 and $ 3.2 million in the first. Mid-2021, according to statements filed with Elections Canada.
McGrath attributes that fundraising success to the NDP’s performance in the minority Parliament. The party also owns an office building named after Layton in downtown Ottawa, allowing it to borrow money with confidence that it can be repaid, he said.
The party also hired staff to work exclusively with MPs to raise more money in their districts, said a senior NDP official who spoke on the condition that they were not named.
The NDP now plans to spend significantly on television ads and will increase its campaign staff to more than 100 people, the official said.
Looking to grow
The NDP is trying to lay the groundwork for a campaign that improves its seat count in the House of Commons, after losing 15 of the 39 constituencies it had before the 2019 elections.
The senior party official said the NDP is targeting roughly 50 constituencies as key battlegrounds, starting with those it has previously represented. These include districts in southwestern Ontario such as Windsor-Essex and Windsor-Tecumseh, where incumbents for the New Democrats were defeated in 2019.
The NDP is also studying districts in Edmonton and Saskatoon, urban centers in western provinces typically dominated by federal conservatives, as well as swaths of northern Ontario and British Columbia, and Toronto districts such as Parkdale-High Park, the official said.
In an attempt to reverse the party’s declining fortunes in Quebec, where deputy leader Alexandre Boulerice is currently its sole MP, the party has put policy director Jonathan Gauvin in charge of campaign and media strategy.
Social and digital networks
Singh has long been known for his use of social media and has garnered attention for his frequent and lighthearted posts on TikTok.
Now the party is launching a new “digital mobilization team” for the campaign that will be run “exclusively” by Gen Z and millennial organizers who are mostly racialized women, said Amneet Singh, the party’s director of digital operations and friend. longtime NDP Leader.
The party has also created what Amneet Singh called a “texting community”, where people can message Jagmeet Singh and even get responses from him through a platform aptly named Community.
“We seek to bring people to our movement and be part of it,” he said, contrasting that vision with traditional political arguments that offer politics and ask for the vote of the people.
“It has to be more meaningful, deep and thoughtful,” he said.
Key players. Main players
Jennifer Brown, Campaign Manager: Former NDP Finance Minister in Manitoba, Brown has been Singh’s chief of staff since 2019 and will lead the party’s campaign strategy from the Layton Building in Ottawa.
National Director Anne McGrath: A new veteran Democrat who worked closely with Layton and his successor, Thomas Mulcair, as well as former Alberta Prime Minister Rachel Notley. Among other things, McGrath is responsible for the party’s finances and will help advise on electoral strategy during the campaign.
Senior Advisor to Leader Marie Della Mattia: The veteran activist is back for her second federal election with the NDP. She is reprising her role as Singh’s road consultant and will ride with him every day until the elections.
Communications Director George Soule: Soule, a longtime NDP worker in Ottawa and Alberta, is returning from working with the United Steelworkers to lead the communications arm of the federal campaign from his election war room.
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