Prominent Quebec MP now Official Opposition leader
By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
In the fourth round of voting at the NDP Leadership Convention last weekend in Toronto, Thomas Mulcair defeated former party leader Brian Topp, granting the former lawyer—whose election in 2007 marked a prelude for NDP in Quebec—the title of Official Opposition leader. In his celebratory speech, Mulcair thanked his many supporters as well as those who ran against him for leadership and highlighted the importance of casting a ballot, especially for young Canadians.
“Democracy can’t just mean the right to vote. Democracy must also mean the knowledge that your vote matters; the knowledge that when you vote you take part in steering the course of our country’s future,” said Mulcair. “Our future is limitless if we get our priorities right.
“In order to win the next election and have our first NDP federal government, our party must reach beyond the limits of its traditional base and unite all progressive forces under the NDP banner.”
Mulcair, once named the party’s Quebec lieutenant by the late Jack Layton, made clear of his goal to promote a party which recognizes all Canadians.
“As we try to unite progressive forces in Canada, we won’t do it by sacrificing the unity of our country. For far too long certain leaders did nothing more than divide Canadians, pitting francophones against anglophones, west to east,” said Muclair. “We will unite progressives, we will unite our country and together we will work towards a more just and better world.”
This year’s NDP Leadership Convention marked the first year where the party’s supporting unions did not have greater sway in the vote. Each member of the NDP was granted one vote, a policy which is in toe with the direction Mulcair is slated to take the party.
“When we started this campaign I was very clear on one point. As leader, and Prime Minister, the members of my government will never have to serve another interest,” said Mulcair in his celebratory speech. “No interest will be greater than the public interest and that’s a firm commitment.”
The party’s loss of Jack Layton was felt at the convention. On Friday, a tribute to Layton led by his widow, MP Olivia Chow, marked the evening as he was remembered with pictures, videos, and speeches in his honour by many notable figures including David Suzuki.
Many critics from inside and outside of the party have come out against Mulcair. Shortly after the results were announced, the Young Liberals of Canada released a message warning Canadians to Mulcair’s stance against marijuana decriminalization. Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent also has criticized Mulcair, seeing him as a candidate that will draw the party closer to the centre of the political spectrum, far from the party’s and current build of democratic socialism
Mulcair is soon to move into Stornoway, the official residence of the Official Leader of the Opposition. Chow, the house’s last resident, has recommended the estate needs an environmental upgrade.