Andrea Horwath is proof that cutthroat politics don’t always take you to the top. While Doug Ford was painted as the Trump-lite candidate in the Ontario provincial election, the Ontario NDP’s Machiavellian tactics place Horwath’s political style closer to the US president than they would like to admit.
The NDP’s program leading up to the election, and now, as the official opposition, seems to have been taken straight from Roger Stone’s playbook. For the NDP, “attack, attack, attack” is the preferred mode of dealing with any and all political opponents. Unsurprisingly, it is a strategy that only serves to alienate whoever decides to employ it. Had the NDP formed anything resembling a functioning government and Horwath had been Premier, alienation might not have been a bad thing. But as the official opposition to a majority government, the NDP has put itself in the position of a snake lashing out at the surrounding flames.
Like a true Machiavellian, for Horwath the “ends justify the means”. So when the ends are a $2.25 million defamation lawsuit, and a Conservative government steamrolling its policies into provincial legislature, the NDP leader must be asking herself: was it REALLY worth it?
When playing dirty, you’re bound to have to lie. When making accusations for blind political gain, you flirt with defamation. The lawsuit in question was launched by former PC candidate for Scarborough-Guildwood, Roshan Nallaratnam. Mr. Nallaratnam claims that he was the victim of a “political hit job” coordinated by the NDP which disseminated an email allegedly showing the PC candidate and former police officer threatening an inquiring voter. Roshan’s lawyer insists that the email was entirely a fabrication and it cost him the election.
Mr. Nallaratnam was not the only candidate dragged through the mud by the New Democrats. Several other candidates became the victims of political lynchings done by the NDP and media outlets sympathetic to their cause. Among these names are the likes of: Andrew Lawton (PC – London West), Tanya Granic Allen (PC – Mississauga-Centre), Amanda Yeung Collucci (Liberal – Markham-Unionville), Mohammad Latif (PC – Windsor), and Donna Skelly (PC – Flamborough-Glanbrook), among several others. Each of these candidates now have a potential bone to pick with the NDP, and some are even now holding seats in government.
The current political climate reflects Progressive Era politics not only in its populist tendencies but also in the muckraking tactics employed by parties and competing media publications. ‘Muckraker’ is a moniker designating a style of investigative journalism which seeks to undermine the political legitimacy of public figures or opponents by digging up past dirt or “muck” on the intended targets.
Newspapers and mainstream media outlets during election time in Canada are increasingly becoming tabloids meant to air the dirty laundry of imperfect politicians. It is to be said however, that some of that laundry needs to be aired. Journalists are the public watchdogs ensuring politicians are held to account. Yet as the recent lawsuit against the Ontario NDPs proves, muckraking with malicious intent often comes at a potentially high price.
Another lesson can be learned from south of the border by those seeking to use similar dirty tactics. The Southern Law Poverty Center (SPLC), a right-wing watch group notorious for it’s defamatory tactics, paid a $3.3 million settlement to anti-Islamic extremism activist Maajid Nawaz and his foundation, Quilliam. The SPLC apologized for erroneously listing the Quilliam Foundation as an extremist group in it’s “hatewatch” listings.
While in the short-term defamatory tactics might have given the NDP the illusion of an upper hand, in hindsight the evidence seems pretty damning. So, Andrea Horwath, was it all really worth it?