He just won the toughest job in the country
Quick weigh in on the NDP leadership race which wrapped up tonight
1) Niki Ashton is the same age as me. While we both undoubtedly feel we have the knowledge and skills to lead Canada, society ain't buyin' it and won't be buyin' it for awhile.
2)I used to live in Paul Dewar's riding. At the time, the film The 40 Year Old Virgin starring Steve Carell was very popular. Dewar's election signs were indistinguishable from the cover of that DVD. Nice guy, but with awkward english-y sounding bad French was a non-starter for party leader at this time.
3) I also used to live in Peggy Nash's riding. Like Mr Dewar, too nice to be anything but torn to shreds by the Conservative war machine, and I hope she would take that as a compliment. Another issue: a career as an auto worker union negotiator is going to be a liability in our current post-bailout universe. Peggy, I'm just glad you were able to win your seat back as a socialist/populist in ridiculously rich and expensive high park last year. After today, I'd encourage you to aim as high as deputy leader
4) Brian Topp writes great columns in the Globe. Also delivers great partisan sound bites. A born strategist and communicator, but a lifetime in backroom wheeling and dealing did not get him ready for prime time. The awkward business of trying to finagle a seat outside election time was also a huge liability. He says he would seek it in Quebec where he's from, a province he likes so much that he left it over 20 years ago and lives in downtown Toronto. Mr Topp, how do you think that would read in La Presse?
5) Nathan Cullen was the pleasant surprise. This guy is a champion. I didn't even know he was a torontonian who lives in Smithers BC. I think his idea of non-competition in ridings to defeat the Conservatives is good in that its outside the box, but bad in its execution. It would totally backfire. What is needed is a harsh merger that puts all the career deadweights, corrupt partisan apologists, and LINOs (Liberals in name only) in the red party out to pasture and creates a new real alternative. The NDP talk tough now about being against such a scenario, but hopefully common sense will cut through the partisan fog by 2015. Common sense that would make them realize their 102 seats are a total fluke and they need to cast a broader net than they traditionally have to sustain any kind of long-term success. Virtues and ideological purity are great until you've been stuck with Steve Harper for 2500+ days.
6) Which leaves us with the victor Thomas Mulcair. The only one who made sense, which is not to say he's perfect. Like Bob Rae, he holds the ignominious albatross of being a former member of the provincial wing of the (progressive) competition while having to claim he's against a merger with said competition now. Mulcair has worn more hats - English language rights advocate, Bill 101 crusader, anti-development renegade, pro-centrist left winger - than any politician I can think of, but he will tell his critics to f___ off in a way that doesn't invite giggling, unlike the two previous Liberal leaders. His bad tempered and irascible nature was what prevented his outright coronation as leader of the NDP. Thankfully good judgement prevailed over those idealistic purists who thought only "nice" people could be in the party. Think of what you're trying to accomplish here, people. An electoral victory. What does a "nice" team that loses to a "nasty" team try to change? (Hint - it does not try to get nicer. See Stanley Cup Final, 2011)
I know Mr Mulcair has French citizenship through his wife which will inspire three vintage Doug Finley/Guy Giorno attack ads, but I also know this will just embolden the con bot ignoramuses at Sun Media, talk radio, etc. The quasi total of people ready to support him won't give a shit or be distracted by such nonsense.
In the meantime, best of luck Mr Mulcair. Try not to totally cannibalize your electoral chances sparring with the resurgent and always witty Mr Rae. Keep your eye on the ball - the enemy of the majority of Canadians. That's who you have to take down in 2015.