CFN – In a little over a week from now Canada’s official opposition, the New Democratic Party will have a new leader. This person is going to have their work cut out for them as they have to pick up where Jack Layton left off and hopefully lead the party to form government come the next election in 2015. While a great many of the candidates have presented some good ideas as to why the membership should support them in their bid for leader, it is my opinion that the person best suited to lead our party is in fact the MP for Outremont Mr. Thomas Mulcair.
The Québec Factor: Bilingualism, Experience, and Retention
In a leadership race where a lot of emphasis is being put on keeping Québec support and having a leader who is able to speak fluently in both official languages Mr. Mulcair stands out because not only does he hail from la belle province, but he’s also a native speaker of both French and English. He is able to effectively articulate the NDP’s progressive message to both English and French Canada without the struggle that some of the other candidates would face.
As mentioned above, Mr. Mulcair hails from Québec, and his experience speaks for itself. Prior to his career as a NDP MP, he taught law to non-law students at a number of Québécois universities, worked in the Legislative affairs branch of Québec’s Ministry of Justice, served as President of l’Office des professions du Québec and of course served in Québec’s National Assembly as a high profile cabinet minister in Charest’s provincial liberal government. As cabinet minister he launched Québec’s sustainable development plan which included an amendment to Québec’s charter of human rights and freedoms which guaranteed Quebecers the right to live in a healthy environment which rightly respected biodiversity. Mulcair’s proposed sustainable development plans and amendments passed with unanimous consent in the National Assembly in April of 2006.
Later in that same year, he resigned from Cabinet on a matter of principle and refused to sign an order-in-council which transferred lands from Mont-Orford Provincial Park to private developers who had the intention of building condos. He announced he would not be seeking re-election in the 2007 provincial election and soon after he was approached by Jack Layton to run in a 2007 bi-election in the Liberal bastion of Outremont.
Thomas Mulcair accepted Jack Layton’s offer and turned the riding orange, becoming Québec’s only NDP MP. Eventually Jack Layton named him the NDP’s Québec lieutenant as well as joint deputy leader with Libby Davies. From then on he served an important role in the NDP’s caucus and he was crucial in the success of the NDP in Québec in the last election which saw an orange wave sweep through the province.
Modernization: Reaching beyond the traditional base
While many of the candidates are playing the establishment card, Thomas Mulcair has rightly pointed out that in order to gain enough support to form Canada’s first NDP government, the party must appeal to Canadians outside of its traditional base of support. He has championed moving the party forward, much as Jack Layton had, by further modernizing the party and building strong grassroots support from coast to coast to coast. He has stated that it is not a question of bringing the party to the centre, but rather bringing the centre to the NDP through continued adaptation, modernization, and reaching out beyond the traditional base in order to unify progressives behind one banner; the NDP.
Thomas Mulcair is a principled social democrat, and would not bring the party in any which direction other than forward. He has cited that the party must do in Canada what it did so successfully in Québec, which is to run on a campaign attuned to the priorities of Canadians. It is not a question of abandoning long-standing beliefs but rather a question of adapting and modernizing our way of explaining ourselves, the way in which the party approaches the electorate, and engaging those who may share the goals of the party who but for one reason or another are still hesitant to vote NDP.
Having a Strong opposition: Getting tough with Harper
There is no question that Mr. Mulcair is a tenacious speaker who does not shy away from taking on his opponents. He would not allow the Harper Conservatives to define or label him as they have so successfully with Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Thomas Mulcair would bring the fight to the Conservatives by challenging the government’s disgraceful behaviour in Parliament through holding them accountable for their actions, and their words. Thomas Mulcair acknowledges that Stephen Harper will not be defeated with a slogan, and that we must be as effective in defining him to the Canadian public as he is defining his enemies. We have to have a strong, structured opposition which is prepared to get tough with Stephen Harper and the governing Conservatives, and that is exactly what Thomas Mulcair is prepared to do as leader of the NDP.
For arguably the first time in the party’s history there is a real chance that we could form the government come the next election. In choosing a successor to the late Jack Layton, the membership will not only be choosing a new leader, but also the direction in which the party takes. We need a leader who is able to communicate NDP principles in a strong and effective manner while also being modern to the day, someone who is able to as effectively speak to Quebecers in their language as they are able to speak to the rest of Canada, and of course someone who is able to go toe to toe with Stephen Harper.
That someone is Thomas Mulcair, and I endorse his candidacy for leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
Born and raised in Cornwall Ontario, Stéphane is a social activist and political science student at the University of Ottawa who is avidly passionate about politics, policy-making, as well as getting youth involved in the democratic process.
Stéphane also loves to observe and explore his surroundings, take part in rational discussion, learn new things, write, and meet new people.
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