It is official the NDP now has a former Liberal as the head of their party. Not so bad. The Liberals have a former dipper as the head of their party. I think the loser in all of this is Canadians who are not conservative. True the distance between the major parties, on economic policy, has gone from wide to vanishingly small over the last 30 years. Recall that Layton ran on balanced budgets the day after the crisis. From a social cultural perspective there is now almost nothing that separates the Liberals from the NDP. Under Mulcair the NDP’s foreign policy stance will go in a hawkish direction if his position on Israel (right or wrong) is anything to go by.
What, then, keeps the two parties from merging? Technically, at this point, nothing save for history. There are simply too many Dippers and too many Liberals that cannot contemplate a conversation let alone a merger. My prediction is that the NDP and Liberals will continue to fight over official opposition status. The irony here is that neither party under their existing leaders is sufficiently different at this point to sustain the façade of choice between centre and centre-left. The centre left has collapsed. It would be remiss to blame Mulcair for this. He is simply the recipient of exhausted social democratic (and nationalism in both English and French Canada) fortunes.