Keith Beardsley’s View From the Hill – NDP Leadership Race – March 12, 2012

Dr. Evil - Keith Beardsley

CFN – In the latest NDP leadership debate serious divides were evident and some of the internal tensions between candidates started to show.

Thomas Mulcair as the perceived front-runner was the target of a number of barbs thrown his way, all of which imply he isn’t a true believer in the NDP. The question now becomes where do the candidates go from here if Mulcair wins?

Brian Topp charged that Mulcair would take the NDP “backwards into a divisive and distracting debate about ourselves.” If Mulcair wins, will Topp fight him every step of the way in effect creating the divisions that he is forecasting?

Paul Dewar questioned Mulcair’s ability to win an election when Dewar tried to convince party members that Mulcair was down on the party as it presently stands and questioned how Mulcair could “inspire people to vote for our party when you don’t seem to be inspired by our party.”

Will Dewar stay in caucus with an uninspiring leader that he feels can’t win? Will he join Topp in fighting a rear guard action to oppose Mulcair’s leadership in an attempt to preserve the values of the NDP as they see them? Or does Dewar resign?

At the very least this means that there are two senior NDP members and leadership contenders who disagree strongly with Mulcair’s position that the party has to change and modernize. How they react to a Mulcair victory will impact on the future direction of the party and on Mulcair’s chance for electoral success.

In addition, if Mulcair doesn’t control the party apparatus he will be pressed on a number of sides and could find himself in the divisive situation Topp is predicting. If he moves to put his supporters into key party positions he will also risk creating a backlash. All in all some interesting times ahead for the NDP if Mulcair wins.

Questioning Mulcair’s NDP credentials makes for an interesting attack point in a debate, but what happens if your pseudo NDPer wins? Perhaps Nathan Cullen had it right when he said that the notion that “some New Democrats are good New Democrats and others need to pass some kind of test is offensive to me. I think it’s wedge politics, only done within the family – I reject any offensive notion that there be some loyalty test.”

Perhaps the real loyalty test will come if Mulcair is declared the winner.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

James Moak


  1. Mulcair is logical choice if NDP has hope of maintaining its Quebec base which at the moment is crucial to them. To be lead dog it is natural the others are taking nips at him. When all is said and done it is to their benefit that the different factions unite as one or to suffer the infighting fate of the Liberals. Mulcair is the one who has garnered majority support from his caucus colleagues and to raise the most funds in this leadership campaign. His organizational skills were a big part of NDP success in Quebec and also apparent in this current leadership race. I believe Mulcair is with vision and logic in conveying the NDP must move beyond their traditional base. Others that do not see that are with blinders on. Hopefully that also includes some economic logic and common sense, but not likely. If logical choice of Mulcair as leader is not forthcoming then likely to be Topp or Cullen.

  2. At least with Harper, we all knew that he was a born-again Fascist before we handed him absolute power. Canadians seem to have even forgiven him for cheating in the last two elections, and being in contempt of Parliament. Our standards for political “leaders” are non-existent.

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