The dark horse: some thoughts on Thomas Mulcair

The exciting thing about the next election is that nobody knows what is going to happen. There are three contenders in a shifting political system. Anything could happen and every prediction can be paired with an equal and contradicting one.

It is easy to discount Thomas Mulcair. He is no Jack Layton, but then again nobody is Jack Layton. This country is still mourning the loss of the great man that turned many individuals, particularly the Quebecois, to the NDP cause. Mulcair has shown that he can be adept. While Trudeau and Harper raced to the bottom with terrible blunders in the wake of the Boston bombings Mulcair’s response was calm and reasonable and well coherent. Mulcair has put on several shows during question period that show skill as a parliamentarian and shame the conservatives. At these moments he can put on a show that makes Canadians stand up and cheer, or at the very least take note. When he is at his best he looks like he would make a good prime minister.

Then he starts talking about the senate and I wish that he could borrow some of Trudeau’s populism. Trudeau may have no real policy goals but at least he has the sense to know that reopening the debate on the constitution is suicide. Mulcair seems to have missed that history lesson. Perhaps he should google Charlottetown and find out about the last crucifixion. There is also the risk that reopening debate on the constitution will open old wounds in Quebec at a time when it seems that separatism is starting to simmer down. This is not smart talk and makes me wonder where the lovely man shutting down Harper went.

It is hard to say whether Mulcair can repeat in Quebec. The Bloc seem all but done as of the last election. Mulcair is a Quebecois francophone. This will play well there and is probably a large part of why he was chosen. If the NDP can hold onto Quebec then they will consider the next election a success.

Despite what the media say the next election will be fought between three major party leaders. It is easy to forget Mulcair with the shine of Trudeau but he is still the leader of the opposition, and on his good days he can be one darned good politician.

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