Waiting game: Mulcair to announce leadership decision “in a few weeks”

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair told Concordia students on Sept. 16 that a leadership decision would be announced in weeks, not days.

Don’t expect a definitive statement anytime soon on Thomas Mulcair’s future in the NDP leadership race.
“It’s a question of weeks, and not days,” said the party’s deputy leader to a group of about 60 supporters and Concordia University students at a speaking event in Montreal on Sept. 16.
He made the comments the day after a three-day caucus meeting finished in Quebec City. The question about his leadership and potential backing from the other MPs was a frequent topic at the conference.
Mulcair relayed a few reasons why his declaring or denying of a leadership bid is not forthcoming.
“It’s simply because, first of all, a lot us who were close to [Jack Layton] are still in a state of shock,” he said. “And I still have a lot of other responsibilities as the parliamentary house leader.”
Mulcair then quipped about the low membership level in Quebec, his home base: “You’ll hear from us in the next few weeks, but in the meantime it doesn’t stop us from selling membership cards.”
But as Mulcair mulls over his decision, a second candidate in the race has tossed his hat in the ring, potentially dividing Mulcair’s support at home. Former Cree leader and northern Quebec MP Romeo Saganash made his announcement Friday, dashing the belief that he would back the only other candidate at the time, party president Brian Topp.
Topp, who is not an elected MP, has begun campaigning across the country, while receiving high-profile endorsements from former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and MP Françoise Boivin.
On Monday, Mulcair downplayed his chances because the math involved might not play in his favour.
He told reporters that he is not sure about a bid because statistically, a Quebec candidate might not pull a lot of support. Only about 2,000 out of 85,000 to 95,000 NDP members nationwide are from Quebec, as the party has no party wing in the province.
Regardless, a handful of Quebec MPs stated last week that they would support a leadership bid by Mulcair, including Jamie Nicholls, François Lapointe, Claude Patry, Marc-André Morin, Robert Aubin and Pierre Nantel.
After the talk at Concordia, Mulcair predicted that one of the biggest challenges for the NDP as official opposition this parliamentary session would be battling the omnibus crime bill being proposed by the Conservatives.
“It’s going to be a Conservative party up to its usual tricks,” he said, saying the Tories would “take apart” the environment department and the civil service. “It’s going to be up to us to be a strong opposition to stand up to them.”
But the first day of Parliament, on Sept. 19, was a subdued affair as parliamentarians took to commemorating Jack Layton, the NDP’s former leader who passed away Aug. 22.
During his 30-minute long speech, Mulcair shared his thoughts on the two biggest challenges facing Canada: sustainability and youth apathy.
One student questioned Mulcair about a potential merger with the Liberal party, and whether it would make sense to “unite the left.” Mulcair received a round of applause when he replied: “We did unite the left.”He criticized both the Conservative and Liberal parties, joking the latter often “flashes left and then turns right” prior to elections.
The event was organized by Concordia’s Political Science Students Association. According to the group’s president, Pier-Luc Therrien Peloquin, Mulcair’s appearance was booked around the date of the last federal election in May, and not after Layton’s passing in late August.
Though the event was organized by the PSSA, student club NDP Concordia had two booths at the event.
Hannah McCormick, who was elected as club president the previous day, said the group has seen a resurgence of interest from students since the Orange Crush, which swept several NDP candidates from Quebec into national office in the May 2011 federal elections, four of them students themselves.
Whereas the group did not have official club status last year, four people joined last May, and the group has a long list of interested students.
According to Concordia student Catherine Hamé, co-president of the NDP’s provincial youth wing, the same renewed interest is happening at the NDP club at McGill University.
While Hamé said that NDP Concordia and its individual members are allowed to endorse candidates, the club has yet to lend its support to any one leadership hopeful.


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