Mulcair’s Musings

NDP MP Talks

In the last Canadian Federal election, the New Democratic Party formed the official opposition to Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. It was the largest number of seats held in the House of Commons by the NDP in its 40-year history.

When pundits discussed this victory, they often pointed to Jack Layton’s leadership as the catalyst for the sudden, overwhelming and downright shocking popularity of the NDP. In a country run by the Conservatives, Layton was a symbol of potential—a symbol of a Canada that is truly greener, of an economy that wouldn’t shrink the middle class, and of a nation where Quebec is more than just a francophone interlude on the map between Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

But then in August, tragically and suddenly, Jack Layton died.

The question now on the minds of NDP supporters across the country, if not everyone with even a slight interest in politics, is who will step up to fill the legacy left by Jack Layton?

While the name Thomas Mulcair has come up more than once, he maintains that he has no intention of announcing his candidacy.

“I’m encouraged by the fact that hundreds of people from across Quebec and from across Canada are saying that they think I should be running for the leadership of the party,” he told The Link before addressing the Political Science Students’ Association at the Hotel Maritime Plaza on Sept. 16.

“The NDP is, right now, positioned well to form the next government,” he continued. “The NDP has shown itself to be a credible force for progress in Canada and our breakthrough in Quebec is what we have to accomplish in the rest of Canada in the next election.”

In his speech, Mulcair addressed what he considers the twin challenges facing Canada—the inclusion of Quebec and the sustainable development needed to aid the economy.

Touching on a variety of national issues, Mulcair emphasized the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that the reduction of greenhouse gases was one of the most important aspects to be achieved. 

“The way we’re exploiting the tar sands is killing the balanced economy we’ve built up in Canada,” he said, before outlining a model of sustainable development by internalizing the costs of mining the tar sands.

But the strongest emphasis was put on the youth, the generation that will be inheriting the unbalanced economies and carbon emissions of today. Mulcair blamed his generation for the state that the world that will be left for the next, as well as the younger generation’s disinterest in politics.

“One of the gifts of the New Democratic Party, and of any party that wants to do well, is to include young people and to give them a real role,” Mulcair said.

He finished the address with a question and answer period that was even longer than his speech—admitting to The Link earlier that the Q&A was his favorite part of the gig.

What came across most strongly from this man that could easily be the next leader of the NDP, and could even be the next Prime Minister of Canada, was his down-to-earth nature, which, as his party’s last leader had done so often earlier this year, connected a roomful of students and average people.

“The NDP is, right now, positioned well to form the next government,”

This article originally appeared in Volume 32, Issue 04, published September 20, 2011.