Howard Hampton resigns as NDP leader; seniors still in soiled diapers
After 12 years at the helm of Ontario’s NDP, Howard Hampton will be best remembered for his tirade against the media last October. If you haven’t seen it in a while, here it is. It’s worth another look. Back when he said it, he struck me as a politician desperate for attention, which is exactly what he was. But when I watch it again now, outside the context of a provincial election campaign, two things stand out. One: it was an incredibly sincere, from-the-gut outburst—the first Canadian politician in recent memory to speak his mind so forcefully. Two: Howard Hampton has zero charisma.
As political moves go, Hampton’s risk nearly paid off. The obits for Hampton’s tenure all point out that the NDP lost 10 ridings by less than 100 votes, and without the diatribe the results probably wouldn’t have been that close. At the same time, if he’d found a way of appealing to people’s conscience by inspiring them rather than haranguing them, he might have won a few of those seats. Either way, he has certainly made a lasting political issue of adult incontinence products. Just ask George Smitherman.
In the bigger picture, I doubt that many voters saw in Hampton the kind of leader they instinctively wanted to follow. Compare Hampton to another stiff-necked NDP leader, Ed Broadbent: after 12 years, people warmed up to Ed, while Hampton still leaves us cold. And if it’s charisma the Ontario NDP needs, then they will choose Cheri Di Novo as their next leader.