Thomas Mulcair

Happy Anniversary!

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

One year ago today, Stephen Harper turned an “unwanted election” into his first majority government, Jack Layton and the NDP soared to never before seen heights, and Liberals spent the evening curled up in a fetal position sobbing in the corner.

On political anniversaries, it’s tempting to give each party a thumbs up or thumbs down, but the past year has been less clear cut, as the major parties try to figure out where they fit in Canada’s new political dynamic.

The Conservatives

It feels like a “Harper majority” was hyped longer than the Phantom Menace – and the end result was just as much of a letdown. After years of being told by both the right and left that a Harper majority would mean an unrecognizable country, it turns out a Harper majority looks a lot like a Harper minority. I hardly think when people warned of his “hidden agenda”, abolishing the penny is what they had in mind.

So if the past year has proven anything, it’s that Stephen Harper has always been and always will be an incrementalist. He has made some changes – goodbye gun registry, so long Katimavik…CBC and Statscan, you can stay, but we’ll make your job a bit harder, in the hope the public begins to question your value. These are bigger changes than he made during the minority years, but the man isn’t reshaping Canada as we know it.

While none of those moves prompted a large backlash, there are storm clouds on the horizon. The F-35 fiasco could tarnish his reputation as a strong financial manager. A stagnant economy would speak directly against the ballot question he was elected on. Robocon could blow up in his face. Bev Oda is still in Cabinet, so that alone guarantees us a few hilarious screw ups.

Outlook: Harper survived year one of the majority unscathed, but he survived with Nicole Turmel as leader of the opposition. The next year will be harder than the last.


The past 13 months have been the most turbulent in this “new” party’s long history, filled with highs, lows…and voting delays.

Jack Layton’s death was tragic, but life has gone on for the Dippers. Their leadership race may not have generated the excitement they hoped it would, but they came out of it with the only leader who has a realistic shot at ever living at 24 Sussex, so that’s a point in their column.

With the exception of a few easily forgotten floor crossings, their rookie caucus hasn’t been the embarrassment we thought it would be, so that’s another point for the boys in orange.

Outlook: Mulcair is in the midst of his leadership honeymoon, but he’s been treated to the kid gloves by the Conservatives so far. That’s going to change if Harper ever decides Mulcair is a legitimate threat.

The Liberals

On March 31st, Justin Trudeau knocked out Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau. There haven’t been many highlights over the other 365 days since election night.

That’s not to say Liberal rebuilding hasn’t gone on behind the scenes. The party picked a new president with a lot of good ideas. Today, the Liberals became Canada’s most open party by letting supporters register to vote for the leader. Liberals finally get that the party needs fixing, and I’ve been surprised at the number of new faces I’ve seen at events over the past year – people who joined the party after May 2nd, because they wanted to save it.

In front of the scenes, Rae has performed well in the interim leader’s role, but the “will he or won’t he” saga around his leadership has been a distraction.

Outlook: The next year will be all about leadership, as the Liberals pick the man or woman who will either oversee the party’s death or its return to relevance. No pressure, though.

The Bloc

Can’t say I miss them.

Call me Tom

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Ads, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

After the NDP’s French ad last week, we get the English version:

The ad features a collection of what I can only assume are average hard working Canadians: guy in pick-up truck with dog, pregnant mom buying groceries, man with tools, young redheaded cyclist, female doctor, and bald jogger. They all seem impressed with Thomas Tom Mulcair and female doctor is confident he can beat Stephen Harper.

Cut to Olivia Chow for the Jack Layton endorsement, and a full suited Thomas Tom to reassure us that he’ll carry on Jack’s vision.

On the whole it’s not a bad ad, though it could certainly use more Mulcair forearm.

Meet Mulcair’s Arms

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Ads, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

The much-anticipated NDP attempt to define Thomas Mulcair has arrived, en francais at least. In it, we’re treated to close ups of Mulcair’s forearms (so that the Tories won’t dare call him a “weak leader”), then Tom rolls up his sleeves…

…cut to Mulcair in a suit. Why was he rolling up his sleeves in the previous scene? Or is this a flashback? Will we find out in the next ad? I’m baffled. This is season 4 of Lost all over again.

Regardless, Mulcair gets off the key NDP lines: listening, working together, green economy, plan, vision. All good things.

So on the whole, it’s not a bad introduction. I wouldn’t say it defines Mulcair, but he looks serious and pleasant at the same time, which is the important thing. The ad is about warming voters up to a man with a gruff reputation and, on that score, it should do the trick.

Mulcair Triumphs

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics, NDP Leadership 2012 | Leave a comment

Thomas Mulcair is the second ever NDP leader of the opposition after a four ballot victory yesterday morning…and afternoon…and evening.

Although Brian Topp was seen as the establishment candidate and was hyped as the early favourite, we shouldn’t be surprised that Mulcair came out on top. Since his Outremont by election win in 2007, everyone has assumed Mulcair would succeed Layton. Although he hemmed and hawed at the start of this leadership race, he was the best politician in the field, he ran a good campaign, and avoided the pratfalls that usually plague frontrunners. As a result, he was able to grow his support on each subsequent ballot – more so than Topp in fact.

As a Liberal, it’s easy to scoff after the fact and say Mulcair is beatable. Many Liberals will point to his flaws, especially after watching a very unimpressive victory speech. However, I wrote before the vote that Mulcair was the most dangerous candidate for the Liberals and that remains the case. The NDP have squarely aimed their sights on the centre of the political spectrum, and they have a polished politician to lead them there.

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