After four ballots, plagued and delayed by a cyber attack against the NDP’s sophisticated online vote site, and after some tears were shed on the shiny concrete floors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre by at least one of Brian Topp’s diehard supporters, relief finally washed over Thomas Mulcair’s fatigue-lined face Saturday night when he won the NDP leadership.
When feisty Quebec Liberal MP Denis Coderre, who incidentally declared on national TV on Friday evening that he may take a run at the federal Liberal leadership, was asked by New Democrats over the weekend if he was at the NDP leadership convention to become a member, he said he told them, ‘No, I’m recruiting.’
New Democrats say the suddenly nail-biting tension of what could be their party’s most crucial leadership race since its founding will continue through several ballots on Saturday, after leading candidate and NDP MP Thomas Mulcair ignited a warm-up crowd of several thousand party convention delegates with a declaration he can 'hardly wait' to face Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the Commons on Monday.
There are more than 4,000 delegates, almost 700 media, 18 video screens and a reported 55,659 people have voted in advance thus far.
All the campaigns know that the locked-in vote is already won or lost. What remains of the contest is perhaps 30 per cent to 40 per cent of NDP members who will vote round by round, either on the convention floor or presumably at home. Locating these ‘live’ voters will be crucial since they are one of the few ways to create upward momentum from round to round.
One of NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp’s most influential caucus supporters says New Democrats need only to 'connect the dots' to see whether late party leader Jack Layton, perhaps in his final days, wanted Mr. Topp to succeed him at the party helm.
'There is huge energy in the campaign as we enter the final hours. The phone banks are buzzing. Contributions are flowing in. And our get out the vote strategy is in full gear right across Canada,' says Brian Topp spokesperson Jim Rutkowski.
Ed Broadbent’s scorn of a move to the middle is odd given that he was in conversation to form a governing coalition with Jean Chrétien, both when the Conservative government nearly fell in 2008, and in the years following to discuss the possibility of merging the two left-of centre parties. His sudden rejection of compromise in favour of a return to ideological purity is perplexing.
The new NDP leader will be chosen just days before the federal government brings down its first majority budget, one that could fundamentally change the direction of the nation.
Jack Layton brought us this far, now it’s someone else’s turn to carry us the rest of the way. Let’s make sure we’ve got their back.
In an environment where high unemployment and falling incomes are becoming the new normal; where the gap between the very rich and the rest continues to widen as exorbitant levels of CEO pay continue to escalate; where corporations and governments demand wage rollbacks from their workers; and where the middle class continues to shrink—it is a recipe for a long winter of social discontent.
And whoever the new leader of the NDP is, bringing new voters into the system, whether millennials or not, must be high on the agenda if they hope to form government in 2015. Getting there is easier said than done. Based on the data, I offer three points of advice.
Ottawa is broken. The NDP is the only party to offer a compelling vision to restore Canada’s reputation both at home and abroad. Canadians can count on the NDP to stand up for them and fight for jobs, health care, pensions and to make life affordable.
Jack Layton, Tommy Douglas and J.S. Woodsworth brought something different to our party, while building on the social democratic values that each and every one of us hold so dear.
While Layton will be a tough act to follow for any of these potential successors, both the national scope of the party’s membership and its widening ideological tent should serve as a warning to those who smugly believe the NDP will be shunned to irrelevancy any time soon.
Ottawa boy Paul Dewar says his late mother, Marion Dewar, still inspires him to make a difference in politics.
NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen says he’s not choosing between power and principles.
NDP leadership candidate Tom Mulcair is making waves in his run to be leader of official opposition.
NDP leadership candidate Peggy Nash says she would make a difference in Canada’s electoral system, economy, environment, foreign policy, social programs.
NDP MP Niki Ashton says she got into politics to fight for equality and she proved that someone who supports equality could get elected on the rural Prairies.
NDP leadership candidate Martin Singh says Thomas Mulcair is his second choice, but beyond that, no relationship exists.
Long-time backroom boy, war roomer, and prolific writer, Brian Topp says he’s ready for prime time.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
NDP LEADERSHIP CONVENTION AGENDA
FRIDAY, MARCH 23
9 a.m.: Registration opens
11 a.m.: Advance voting closes
12:30 p.m.: Convention opens and official welcome with NDP MPs Andrew Cash and Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Singing of O Canada, aboriginal welcome, speech by New Democratic Party President Rebecca Blaikie.)
1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Candidate showcases begin (Each candidate gets 20 minutes and there will be approximately 10 minutes turnover time in between showcases.)
5 p.m.: First round of voting opens (Delegates can start to vote on the convention floor and members can start voting online.)
The first ballot remains open until 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: Tribute to Jack Layton (Full stage show featuring speakers, video messages, live music and other audio visual components.)