Not surprisingly, Thomas Mulcair won the NDP leadership last month, replacing Saint Jack Layton as the man social democrats hope can rally left-of-centre voters to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
The next occupants of 24 Sussex?
Here’s hoping he’s successful, but as I argued in an earlier post, it seems unlikely that he will be, because the left is as divided today as the right was in the 1990s, with a rapprochement nowhere on the horizon. Or as Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin famously told The Hill Times earlier this month, “If we don’t unite the progressive vote, Stephen Harper will be prime minister until he gets bored.”
(Taking a different tack, the inimitable Chantal Hebert argues that Mulcair’s feistiness makes him the strongest opposition leader Harper has faced so far. She reminds readers that he arrives in time to face the PM in 2015, near Harper’s 10-year mark in power, when many prime ministers – e.g., Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney – wear out their welcome with voters and lose the fire in their belly. She also recalls that no one thought Harper would ever be prime minister, having been written off as a transitional leader of a reunited Conservative party.)
As has been widely noted, NDPers clearly chose Mulcair, a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister, because they think he can win. They put aside what many see as his tenuous ties to the party and his previous statements against the oil sands (which, as right-wing media pundits have noted, are sure to alienate many Albertans), as well as his reputation for surliness. They hope he can consolidate the party’s massive 2011 gains in Quebec while gaining enough support elsewhere to push it over the top.
But some on the left of the NDP, such as longtime B.C. activist Murray Dobbin, are mourning how its members “could collectively have let Thomas Mulcair, the right-wing Liberal, pro-Israel, political bully become head of their party.” Continue reading