I’ve previously blogged about the Ontario NDP leadership here and here. You’ll notice I haven’t mused about a Peter Kormos candidacy. The reason is that I think there is little chance he will run.
He doesn’t seem to want the job. If Kormos really wanted the job, he would have taken it after Hampton lost official party status for the party for the second election in a row in 2003. The fact is that Hampton was willing to step aside, but no one, including Kormos, wanted the job. Why would he want it now?
Kormos would only differ significantly from Hampton in terms of style. Kormos knows how to rally the troops and energize a crowd. He is, by far, a better public speaker than Hampton and would make a much more effective opposition leader as a result. However, in terms of policy, Kormos and Hampton are not that far apart. Sure, Kormos is more left-wing than Hampton, but over the course of the last three election campaigns Kormos has effectively pushed his party to the left. In fact, the last two NDP platforms could have been written by Kormos. The party’s decision to re-commit itself to public auto insurance in 2003, its recent emphasis on anti-scab laws, and its disavowal of the Rae government’s Social Contract Act are all evidence of Kormos’ growing influence within the caucus and the party. That influence grew tremendously after the departure of Frances Lankin and David Christopherson. As House leader, Kormos was able to put his stamp on the party like never before. However, there is a sense that Hampton’s politics are as stale as his leadership capabilities. As such, Kormos may not have that much to offer policy-wise. For example, he is opposed to a single, secular public school system in Ontario – a policy currently embraced by the party’s left wing.
His time has passed. Although he was an MPP during the Rae government’s reign of error, Kormos doesn’t carry the baggage of the Rae government like some potential candidates. That’s because he was a thorn in the side of the government and criticized it for abandoning its core social democratic philosophy. That said, Kormos has been around Queen’s Park since 1988. He is as dynamic as ever, but there is a sense that the party needs to renew itself with a newcomer at the helm.
Kormos has done a lot for the party, especially since Rae’s departure. Rae’s conversion to the Liberals has only vindicated Kormos. Expect his caucus colleagues to appoint him as interim leader while others battle it out for the leadership, but don’t expect Kormos to seek the prize himself.