CFN -This was a historic weekend for both Canadians and New Democrats alike as the party chose a new leader as well as Canada’s 44th leader of the Official Opposition in the house. The vote itself went to the forth ballot, and by roughly 9:15pm Eastern time the party announced the chosen successor to the late Jack Layton; NDP MP for Outremont, Mr. Thomas Mulcair with close to 60% of the vote. The following is a breakdown of events from yesterday’s vote.
First ballot: Front-runner Mulcair joined by Singh, Dewar and Ashton release delegates
There were four events worth noting in the first ballot of four at the convention: First, Thomas Mulcair obtained 30.3% of the vote and situated himself at the top of the pack; a place which he would successfully occupy for the rest of the night. This also prompted Nova Scotia Pharmacist and NDP leadership contender Martin Singh to make his way to the Thomas Mulcair camp, who welcomed him in a warm fashion with open arms.
Second, Paul Dewar had significantly weaker results than perhaps initially expected which prompted him to release his delegates and drop out earlier than many of us in the NDP might have thought. He ran an honourable campaign and in parting expressed his willingness to work with the next leader, regardless of who he or she were to be. Prior his run for leader he was the NDP’s foreign affairs critic and he will most likely return to that post and perhaps one day serve as Canada’s first NDP foreign affairs minister.
Third, After the results of the first ballot and after both Ashton and Dewar released their delegates, high profile NDP MP Charlie Angus who had been Dewar’s prospective deputy leader openly threw his unwavering support behind Thomas Mulcair, joining more than 40 NDP MPs who have endorsed the leadership contender. Angus’ walk over to the Mulcair bench was a great show of support and definitely caused some early momentum for Mulcair which may have played a role in bringing many of the Dewar supporters with him.
Fourth, while it was widely expected that Peggy Nash and Brian Topp were going to be in the top four, it was a wonderful surprise to see BC NDP MP Nathan Cullen placed third on the ballot. He campaigned on some big ideas, one of which included collaboration with the Liberals and while many were critical of that controversial idea, the membership showed that a significant portion of them were willing to work together with other progressive parties.
Second Ballot: Results from four-way battle lead to Nash releasing delegates
The second ballot saw the first of a series of delays which would haunt the convention. The party was forced to extend voting twice due to technical difficulties related to online voting system and eventually the results were released at around 2:00pm. The second ballot saw Thomas Mulcair once again solidifying his place on top of the ballot this time with a higher percentage of the vote. Brian Topp and Nathan Cullen placed second and third on the ballot which meant that both were content with staying in the race while Toronto MP Peggy Nash decided that enough was enough.
Once Peggy Nash released her delegates, she urged them to go their own respected ways and did not publically indicate in which direction she wanted them to go, however her message was one which was close to that of Brian Topp’s and it was widely expected that he would be the benefactor of the former Nash delegates who were now looking for a new contender to throw support behind.
Third Ballot: Nash delegates don’t deliver for Topp, Mulcair remains first on ballot
As previously stated, it was widely expected by many political-junkies as well as the media that Peggy Nash delegates were going to make their way to Topp who also sat on the more establishment side of the party. Both candidates had touted on many occasions that the party could win by being themselves and had shown concerns with both Cullen’s and Mulcair’s vision for modernizing the party.
Once the results for the third ballot were released, it was clear that former Nash delegates had dispersed themselves amongst the remaining candidates in a way in which was more equal than originally expected, meaning that support for all three candidates had increased with no one candidate benefiting by ex-Nash supporter more than the other.
The results led to an emotional Nathan Cullen dropping out of the race and releasing his delegates. He too ran an honourable grassroots campaign and had raised his profile from one of mainly regional to national status in the process. There was some talk early on by the media that Nathan Cullen and Brian Topp had been talking in private after he dropped out however he later spoke to media and explained to them that he and Brian go way back and that his old friend was comforting him because the results were a bit overwhelming for him. Nathan Cullen made it clear that he would not endorse either Brian Topp or Thomas Mulcair, instead stating that he strongly believes in the power of democracy and highlighted that he felt both candidates were great people and would be proud to work with either of them at the helm.
As seen in both the first and second ballot the support for Thomas Mulcair had once again risen, however it was not above the 50% mark as of yet meaning that a fourth ballot between him and Brian Topp was inevitable.
Fourth Ballot: Mulcair the Modernizer vs Topp the Establishment Man
In the fourth and final ballot of the NDP leadership race it came down to two men with two very different visions of the way in which the party would be taken to victory. On the establishment side you had Brian Topp, a party-insider of 3 decades who felt the party needs to stay true to its roots and on the other side you had Thomas Mulcair, a man of extraordinary experience who felt that the way in which the NDP is to form government in 2015 is by reaching out beyond the traditional base by continuing to modernize the party.
Many covering the convention had noted that in order for Topp to win he needed to pick up roughly 75% of Nathan Cullen’s delegates, while Mulcair only needed to pick up approximately 25% of them. From the very beginning the odds were against Brian Topp however he still could have come out on “Topp” (excuse me for the awful pun) depending on whether or not there was an Anything-but-Mulcair movement would form and overthrow front-runner Mulcair however that was not what manifested itself.
Instead by close to 9:15pm when the results of the fourth ballot of the NDP leadership convention were announced, Thomas Mulcair was crowned leader of the NDP by democratic means; receiving 57.2% of the votes cast.
What does this mean for the NDP?
A victory for Thomas Mulcair means that for the first time in the history of the New Democratic Party a sitting Québec MP will be at the helm of the party. It also means that through Thomas Mulcair’s experience from his days of taking on the Péquistes as a deputy leader of the provincial Liberals in the Québec National Assembly he will be able to organize a strong and effective Official Opposition to take on PM Stephen Harper and his gang of Neo-Cons head on from day one on Monday with a united party.
Some of the propositions in which Mulcair has introduced, such as the 338 fund would significantly strengthen the grassroots and allow riding associations to run stronger, more efficient campaigns by allowing them a fund that they can tap into which would allow them to compete on a level unseen in the past.
As well, in electing Thomas Mulcair as leader, the party has chosen a principled social democrat who is dedicated to working hard to extend the orange crush by appeal to progressives and unifying them behind one strong voice; the NDP. Through reaching out beyond the NDP’s traditional base to include Canadians who share the party’s values but for some reason have been hesitant to vote NDP in the past, Thomas Mulcair hopes to form the first NDP government in Canadian history come 2015.
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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