So Thomas Mulcair is the new leader of the federal NDP. Like Dick Cheney, and on the same day, the NDP received a heart transplant. The fiery Irish/French politician, lovingly known in Quebec as the "Grizzly Bear", puts an air of combat into a Party best known as a forum for the feel good.
On a strategic note, Mulcair ushers in a historic new era to Canadian politics. Last year the NDP took second party status from the Liberals based on a near complete victory in the province of Quebec. An accurate analysis of that victory is Quebecers got tired of being on the outside looking in as was the case with the Bloc Quebecois. Being perhaps the greatest pragmatists in Canada they decided to instead capture an otherwise weak federal Party, and get themselves back into the power equation federally - on their terms.
Having captured the traditional home base of the Liberal Party, Quebec, and having placed a Quebecer in charge of the Party, Thomas Mulcair, the NDP are now within striking distance of becoming the new Liberal Party federally. To be successful they will have to make further inroads in Atlantic Canada, and Ontario. They are positioned to do that. Take the one small example of Jack Harris. Harris is a strong personal and professional confidant of former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams. He backed Mulcair's leadership bid, and the ex-premier himself gave a videotaped tribute to the late Jack Layton. During his tribute he singled out the work of his old buddy Harris - who just happened to be backing Mulcair. And so it goes.
Bottom line is Mulcair's NDP will be a much different breed than Layton's NDP. This NDP will be aggressive, relentless, and determined. It will target the old Liberal territories to form a new power base that will challenge Harper's Ontario/West power base. Expect to see Newfoundlanders like Ryan Cleary and Jack Harris taking on a far more public profile in the government. Look to see the NDP focusing on issues of importance to Quebec and Ontario. Look to see Mulcair woo soft Liberal or small "L" Liberals over to the NDP by naming them as "progressives." Hard to argue that title: "I'm not a Progressive! I'm a Regressive!"
Quebec politicians in general have always understood exactly how the ebb and flow of Canadian politics work. They above all other Canadians have a sense of it all, and they know how to work it. Mulcair is no different. Look for him to make the Liberals in the House of Commons look like the retirement club. Will the Liberals react properly? Can they reach within the ranks to discover a politician that can lead them back to victory in their traditional base of support? Hard to say. One thing is certain though: The NDP has put a man in charge that can do that, and is aiming for all the Liberals traditional support base. As a partisan that is not NDP I find the obvious facts unfolding on the ground disturbing. As a political observer I have to say that this historical move appears underway. For better or for worse.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)