Host of MPs assessing their chances

The contours of the NDP leadership race began to take shape Tuesday as another big name expressed his interest amid further talk of the party’s merger with the Liberals.

MONTREAL — The contours of the NDP leadership race began to take shape Tuesday as another big name expressed his interest amid further talk of the party’s merger with the Liberals.

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair announced he is gauging support for a leadership bid.

“It’s too early to say anything other than the fact that I’m thinking about it,” he said.

The 56-year-old indicated he would likely wait until after the House of Commons resumes sitting on Sept. 19 to say what he will do. He also wants to see the rules of the leadership contest which will be announced Sept. 9.

Mulcair had kept a relatively low profile since Jack Layton’s death last week. He spoke openly on Tuesday about beginning a consultation process that would include putting a communication and fundraising team in place.

“I am receiving lots of support, lots of interest, and not only in Quebec where support is extremely strong,” he said before giving a speech to law students at McGill University.

“But it is going to be a pan-Canadian campaign and the support has to be there as well.”

The fluently bilingual Montreal MP, who has represented the party in the Commons since 2007, joined NDP president Brian Topp in expressing interest in becoming leader of the official Opposition.

While Mulcair and Topp are almost certain to run and are already touted as front-runners, a host of others are assessing their chances.

Ottawa MP Paul Dewar has said his name should be left on the list of possible contenders. And three other MPs — British Columbia’s Peter Julian, and Nova Scotia’s Robert Chisholm and Megan Leslie — told The Canadian Press on Tuesday they’re considering whether to enter the race.

A fourth — Winnipeg MP Pat Martin — said he’ll throw his hat in the ring if no leadership candidate emerges to champion the idea of uniting with the Liberals.

“If none of the candidates are willing to do so, then I’ll throw my hat in the ring and be the unity candidate myself because I feel that strongly it’s what we have to do,” Martin told CBC.

By co-operation, Martin said he means everything “up to and including” outright merger of the two parties, which he believes is “an inevitability anyway.”

Mulcair refused to categorically reject a merger on Tuesday, but appeared to suggest the NDP should seek out supporters among Liberal ranks.

“Our sole goal is to form a government, and the way to do so is to have ideas that connect with the most Canadians possible,” he said, pointing out the Liberals had previously turned down an NDP merger offer.

“Wherever these progressive forces come from, we will ensure we have enough Canadians to form the next government.”

The other leadership possibles had little to offer Tuesday except to say they are testing the waters.

Chisholm, a newly elected MP who formerly led the Nova Scotia NDP, said he is thinking about running, stressing “that’s all I’m doing at this point.”

Leslie said she’s “still reeling a bit” from Layton’s death and hasn’t stopped to really think about a leadership bid of her own. But she’s honoured that others are encouraging her to run.

“I’m not saying I’ve ruled it out but I haven’t even had a chance to breathe and think about it.”

Both Chisholm and Leslie could be handicapped by the fact they are not fluently bilingual.

Chisholm, who is currently in a French immersion program in Quebec, called his French “a work in progress.” Leslie said she can speak French but conceded: “I can improve … It’s not beautiful.”

Mulcair stunned many in 2007 by winning a Liberal stronghold in Montreal to become the NDP’s first MP from Quebec in almost 20 years.

His tireless networking is credited with laying the foundations for the party’s landslide victory in the province in the May election.

His experience of Quebec politics will loom large given that more than half of the NDP’s caucus comes from the province.

Already a consensus is emerging within the NDP that the next leader should be bilingual and able to build on Layton’s appeal in Quebec, a notion Mulcair made no effort to refute on Tuesday.

“He would obviously be a very serious candidate if he decides to run,” said Hugo Cyr, an NDP adviser and law professor at the Universite de Quebec a Montreal.

“He is very much appreciated in Quebec, and is very much appreciated by the members. He has charisma.”

But Cyr added that being from Quebec could also be a liability for Mulcair, depending on the rules of the leadership race.

Quebec, after all, has the fewest NDP members of any province.

Mulcair’s bid faces a number of other challenges — he has little profile outside of Quebec and has a reputation for being prickly and hot-tempered.

But Mulcair is also one of the few in the NDP caucus to possess cabinet experience, having served as Quebec’s environment minister in the early years of Jean Charest’s Liberal government.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says she has not received an official request from any other school board for a similar move to online learning. (Advocate file photo)
’Operational pressures:’ Calgary schools shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12

School boards can ask to move online for a number of reasons

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the Coordination Center of the Russian Government in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The centre was set up as a line of communication with the whole of Russia for analysing and collecting information, promptly using big data and solving arising problems. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Months after hack, US poised to announce sanctions on Russia

First retaliatory action against the Kremlin for last year’s hack

FILE - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during the “Topping Off” ceremony of the New York Islanders new home, the UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mary Altaffer
Islanders close to selling out inaugural season at UBS Arena

Arena capacity of about 17,000 for hockey

An Uber Eats delivery person carries items near the Japan National Stadium, where opening ceremony and other events are planned for postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with engravings in honor of 1964 Tokyo Olympics seen on the side of the stadium wall behind the fence Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Tokyo. Two top officials of Japan’s ruling LDP party on Thursday, April 15, 2021, said radical changes could be coming to the Tokyo Olympics. One went as far to suggest they still could be canceled, and the other that even if they proceed, it might be without any fans.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Officials say Olympic cancellation, no fans still an option

COVID-19 cases have been rising across Japan

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2020 file photo, co-directors Jim LeBrecht, left, and Nicole Newnham, center, from the documentary “Crip Camp” pose with film subject Judith Heumann during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The disabled have a moment in the Oscar spotlight that they hope becomes a movement. LeBrecht, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, says a golden age for disabled films could come if Hollywood lets them tell their own stories. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
The disabled hope their Oscar moment can become a movement

Traditionally the disabled appear only when an actor seeking an Oscar-worthy role plays one on screen

FILE - Diane Warren poses for a portrait at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on Feb. 5, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Warren is nominated for an Oscar for best original song for her work in “The Life Ahead” starring Sophia Loren. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
12-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren hopes for ‘awesome’ win

Third movie adaptation of the 1975 Romain Gary novel ‘The Life Before Us’

opinion
Opinion: Waiting 4 months between vaccine doses too long

“It’s not just a matter of potency, it’s a matter of the… Continue reading

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Most Read