Frumpy and hysterical, prone to "eat the rich" and "politics of oppression" style rhetoric, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies is a walking caricature of 1970's style radical politics that has rendered the New Democratic Party unelectable and non-credible among an overwhelming majority of Canadian voters.
But the antiquated, white, middle class, neo-Marxist faction of the NDP Davies personifies is the core of the activist base that has been at the centre of the party for the last four decades. With the Quebec breakthrough the party had in the 2011 election, there may be a coming marginalization of the radicals who continually look to re-fight old victories like abortion and health care, and to push divisive, unappealing policies like cozying up to Islamist radicals and 9-11 conspiracy theories rather than looking ahead to forming responsible economic policies.
And so that, in a nutshell, sums up the current angst faced by the old-school NDPers like Ed Broadbent and Judy Rebick, who are seeing their treasured, ineffective values threatened by the modernity represented by current leadership frontrunner Thomas Mulcair.
One aspect of the race and the potential loss of Mulcair's leadership bid is the possibility that the NDP's support in Quebec could totally collapse along with it. As Chantal Hebert wrote in an article in the Toronto Star earlier this week, no one is hoping for a Mulcair loss more than Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who sees Mulcair as being a force for federalism in Quebec and someone who could grow federal support in the province.
Conversely, a Mulcair loss would be seen as a slap in the face to Quebec and would almost certainly create an anti-NDP backlash there.
Interestingly, that fact was acknowledged by the ancient lefttist radical Judy Rebick in an interview on CBC Radio`s The Current a few days ago. But Rebick`s main area of concern is not for the future of the NDP as much as it is for maintaining the influence of Libby Davies` extremist brand of politics within the party.
Rebick who has been actively pushing an `anyone but Mulcair` ticket said her greatest fear is that Thomas Mulcair will shut Libby Davies out of the NDP.
Coincidentally, that is probably Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Bob Rae`s greatest fear too. Because by so doing Mulcair would make the NDP a viable, credible party in the eyes of the broader Canadian electorate.
UPDATE: Mulcair is consolidating his victory, but is it a matter of time before Davies is relegated to obscurity within the NDP to limit the damage she can do to the party?