Thomas Mulcair reminds me of Stephen Harper

Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.
Edmonton-Centre NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in Edmonton on March 26, 2014.

More than 500 people packed into the lobby of the Winspear Centre yesterday to watch the New Democratic Party of Canada officially nominate Edmonton-Centre‘s Lewis Cardinal as the first candidate for 2015 federal election. The selection of Edmonton-Centre as the NDP’s first nomination demonstrates that party’s desire to turn Edmonton into a battle ground in the next election.

Jack Layton NDP Edmonton
Jack Layton at a NDP rally in Edmonton during the 2008 federal election.

After Mr. Cardinal was nominated, NDP leader Thomas Muclair took to the stage to congratulate the new candidate.

During his speech, I could not help but reflect on the differences between Mr. Mulcair and former leader Jack Layton, who spoke to a raucous crowd in the same room during the 2008 federal election.

I remember being impressed with Mr. Layton’s ability to raise the level of energy in the room just with his presence. He oozed style, was charismatic and felt like a made-for-TV leader. His energy was contagious, but I could not help but question whether he had enough substance behind that style.  I always had a difficult time picturing Mr. Layton as the next Prime Minister of Canada.

This week, Mr. Mulcair’s speech to the crowd at the Winspear was more business than partisan play. Unlike Mr. Layton’s high-energy speech in 2008, Mr. Mulcair’s speech focused on the policy and values that differentiates his party from the Conservatives and Liberals. The partisans cheered, but he did not generate the same type of excitement in the room that his predecessor was able to.

Mr. Mulcair’s speech reminded me of what Stephen Harper sounded like before the Conservatives formed government in Ottawa eight years ago. What he delivered was a perfectly acceptable grounded speech. Mr. Mulcair sounded like he could be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Side note: A great concert hall and an excellent venue, the Winspear Centre is named for philanthropist Francis Winspear, who, along with Preston Manning,  helped found of the Reform Party of Canada in 1987.

5 thoughts on “Thomas Mulcair reminds me of Stephen Harper”

  1. You just indirectly said that Canada needs or wants boring leaders. I don’t think that’s actually true, we’ve had a host of colourful characters over the years. Chretian, Trudeau, Mulroney and Mackenzie King come to mind, to name just a few. And I wager Trudeau Jr will be our next PM, & he seems poised to return us to our tradition of slightly odd leaders. I’m excited for it. :)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Neal. I wouldn’t underestimate Justin Trudeau and I wouldn’t count him out as becoming PM in the future. I think we could see one of the most interesting three-way races between the Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals in the next federal election.

  3. I was impressed the first time I heard Thomas Mulcair speak when he was the lone NDP MP in Quebec. He proved that Quebec was ready for more NDP MPs . He sees the same potential in Alberta and he’s motivating great candidates to step forward. The race in Edmonton Griesbach, and Edmonton Centre of course, are great examples of the potential for growth in the number of NDP MPs in Alberta. Tom Mulcair has the integrity and capacity to become an amazing PM and that’s what I see Dave saying. Great candidates with great teams can make him our next Prime Minister!

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