Monday, June 2, 2008

Alexa McDonough Announces Retirement

Former NDP Leader Alexa McDonough announced today in Halifax that she will not be running in Canada's next federal election. McDonough's greatest achievement was making the NDP a viable political force in Nova Scotia, if not Atlantic Canada, first as leader of the Nova Scotia NDP and then the federal NDP. The NDP did not win a lot of seats when Alexa was at the helm of the Nova Scotia NDP but she laid the groundwork for her successors Robert Chisholm and Darrell Dexter. The NDP has been ensconced as the Official Opposition in Nova Scotia for the past decade. Alexa also revived the Federal NDP by gaining a toehold of seats in the 1997 federal election. The NDP has since lost most of those seats save for herself and Peter Stoffer. Nonetheless, in the mid-1990s the NDP was thought to be on its last legs and she did give it new life. I played a modest role in that success as her Youth Organizer when she was victorious at the 1995 NDP Leadership Convention.

Of course, I cut my ties to the NDP after 9/11 when Alexa criticized the U.S. hours after the attack stating, "No country should appoint itself judge, jury or executioner." The NDP then formally opposed Canadian military intervention into Afghanistan, a position the party holds to this day. I became further dismayed after she wrote an open letter to then Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay during the Israel-Lebanon War in 2006 when she called Israel's response "illegal, brutal and disproportionate." I would write an open letter to her expressing my dismay. ( In the letter, I state that if I had known of her hostility towards the State of Israel in 1995 I would not have lent her my support.

I wish it had not come to pass. Perhaps more than anyone in the NDP I felt a great deal of affection towards Alexa. Her sons, Justin and Travis, were always very friendly to me as well. But I was simply unable to support not only her positions, but that of the NDP and the broad spectrum of the Left as well.

Still, she did make a contribution to Nova Scotia and Canadian politics and devoted herself to public service for nearly 30 years. Despite my disagreements, this ought to be acknowledged and I only wish her the best in life after politics.

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