Canada has a new leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. Delegates at the New Democratic Party (NDP) Convention have chosen Thomas Mulcair as its new leader. Mulcair won the party leadership on the fourth ballot besting Brian Topp. The online voting was hampered by hackers and delayed the results for hours.
Mulcair succeeds Jack Layton who passed away last August of cancer. Layton had led the NDP to official opposition status in the May 2011 federal election. More than half of the NDP’s newly elected MPs came from Quebec. Prior to the last election, Mulcair was the NDP’s lone MP from la belle province, had the support of the majority of the NDP caucus and was the odds on favorite to ascend to party leader.
Days after the election, Mulcair raised eyebrows when he questioned the existence of photos confirming the death of Osama bin Laden.
But in the NDP universe, Mulcair is considered a moderate. Last week, Ed Broadbent, who led the NDP from 1975 to 1989, cast doubts on Mulcair’s ability to lead and said he would take the party too far to the center. Broadbent had backed Topp. Before joining the NDP in 2007, Mulcair had been a cabinet minister in the Quebec Liberal government of Jean Charest.
Speaking of the Liberals, it will be interesting to see what they will do with regard to their own leadership situation. Will they embrace interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae, a former Ontario NDP Premier? Or will they select a leader from Quebec like Justin Trudeau or Marc Garneau? Whatever they do, I suspect the NDP and Liberals will split the left-wing vote which gives Stephen Harper and the Conservatives an edge in the 2015 election.