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Blog Posted in avatar   André R. Gignac's Blog

NDP Leadership: The case for Thomas Mulcair

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By André R. Gignac
Posted Dec 13, 2011 in Politics
Nine courageous individuals and excellent candidates are running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada. Problem is, only one can be chosen. And although party members may all have different and, surely, very good reasons to prefer one candidate over another, they should not lose sight of the one major consideration in this contest: The new leader, and the party, will have to face off with and beat Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in the next election. The NDP has never been in a better position to do just that, many thanks to Jack Layton. So they've got to be very careful here, for this consideration should be paramount to other reasons guiding their choice for the leadership of the party. This is not to say that the programs developed and presently debated by the candidates are less important, but the obvious reality is that their programs will be water under the bridge if first they don’t face the Harper obstacle and remove it.
Thus the question: Who is most capable of leading and helping the NDP remove the obstacle?
Better yet, we should flip the question. Who appears to be the least capable of such a feat? We can think of a number of examples to enlighten us on that road. We have seen what happened when members of a political party elected as their leader someone they liked, because he or she was highly intelligent, appeared to be honest and had good ideas, but a candidate who nonetheless had “limitations”, whether it was a painful inability to understand or speak one of the official languages, or someone who was obviously uncomfortable and did not communicate well with the electorate, someone who was doing good work in his or her riding but who had no “appeal” on the national scene, or in some cases someone who was definitely not ready for a serious fight. Party members knew about those limitations, they had to know, but for some reason they went ahead anyway and elected these politicians to become their leaders. Once there was no air left in the balloons and the drinks had been consummated, troubles started almost immediately, the leadership was questioned and their party went down in ugly defeat.
A chance not to be missed
Whatever the qualities of the candidates they support in this NDP leadership contest, however interesting their program or appealing their promises, the overriding concern should be his or her capacity to win the next election and to lead a government. It is as cruel as that. Party members must not squander the chance they have, being as they are the Official Opposition and the “government-in-waiting”, by throwing their lot with a candidate whose program they like but who would turn out to be an unknown entity to the majority of Canadian voters, or one who would have to fight not only with Harper but also with his or her limitations, or one who would be no match for the Conservative machine.
Of the nine candidates, more than one act and look “prime ministrable” and would be quite capable of bringing the fight to Harper. But of those candidates, and with all things considered, Thomas Mulcair looks by far to be the best candidate to lead the New Democratic Party to victory. Mr. Mulcair does not turn away from a political fight and he has shown that he can win those fights. When in 2007 he took the riding of Outremont away from the federal Liberals, he did not sit on laurels that he never asked for anyway, and he immediately started working as the Québec lieutenant for Jack Layton and the NDP to bring Québec into the family.
The following year, he became the first New Democrat to win a seat in Québec during a general federal election. And the fact that he had previously served under the provincial liberal banner for 13 years shows that voters trust this man, who is well liked not only in his community but also on the provincial scene. There is no doubt that apart from the Layton effect, Thomas Mulcair played a crucial role in Québec voters giving the keys of Stornoway House to the NDP. And yet, he has remained humbled by it and did not ask for any special public recognition of his role. On the contrary, just out of a punishingly hard campaign, he immediately went to work to lead a large group of Québec rookie MPs and help them feel comfortable in their new responsibilities.
This man has proved himself
Erudite, well mannered, speaking clearly and without hesitations, evidently in control of his files, this lawyer, professor and adroit politician communicates very well with voters in both official languages, and he understands the importance of listening. His French as well as his English are impeccable. His bid for leadership is supported by many MPs from various parts of Canada, by a former prime minister of Manitoba and former Governor General of Canada, to mention but a few.
Thomas Mulcair has shown his mettle. He has faced the electorate many times. He is an elected member of the New Democratic Party and sits as an MP and House Leader of the Opposition. There is no doubt whatsoever that Thomas Mulcair has the political knowhow, the strength and the capacity to defeat the party of Stephen Harper..
andré r. gignac

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