Last week I had to opportunity to hear Outremont MP and NDP leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair speak in Edmonton.
Aside from being aware of his role as Jack Layton‘s Quebec Lieutenant and that he was once a provincial cabinet minister, my knowledge of Mr. Mulcair was not vast.
I was not sure what to expect from his talk, but I found myself pleasantly surprised with Mr. Mulcair’s ability to offer intelligent pragmatic social democratic answers to a crowd consisting of committed leftists was both impressive and sometimes brave (Blogger David Climenhaga has written an interesting blog post with his impressions of Mr. Mulcair’s visit to Edmonton).
Much like Brian Topp, who I heard speak in December 2011, I was left with the impression that Mr. Mulcair understands that most Canadians are political moderates and that that his party needs the support of those moderates to form a government.
Closer to home, Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan is expected to endorse Ottawa-Centre MP and leadership candidate Paul Dewar on Thursday.
Home of Alberta’s only NDP Member of Parliament, Linda Duncan, the Edmonton-Strathcona NDP Association is hosting a series of “Kitchen Table Talks” with NDP leadership candidates (named in honour of Jack Layton and his penchant for addressing the kinds of problems that people talk about around the kitchen table).
The informal format of the “kitchen table talks” will give Edmontonians a chance to meet the candidates and give the candidates a chance to ask questions and engage with participants.
Talks have been scheduled with three of the leadership candidates, so far:
As the right-wingers continue to argue about the methodological strengths and weaknesses of online polls versus phone polls, the untold story appears to be the rise in support of Alberta’s NDP. The provincial NDP, which have been stuck in the 10% range since it lost Official Opposition status in 1993, appears to be benefiting from the Alberta ripple of the Orange Wave that hit Quebec in May 2011.
The NDP have attracted a surprising group of seaworthy candidates including former MLA David Eggen in Edmonton-Calder, Catholic School Trustee Cindy Olsen in Edmonton-Manning, AUPE Vice-President Sandra Azocar in Edmonton-Mill Woods, former five-term City Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer in Red Deer-South, and Shannon Phillips in Lethbridge-West. The NDP have a crew of 30 nominated candidates in 87 constituencies across the province, and will have over 40 nominated by the end of next week. On the surface, the NDP looks ready to tap into the 17% of Albertans who supported their party in the last federal election.
As a centre-left leaning urban progressive-type that has voted NDP as many times as I have voted Liberal, I have a hard time getting excited about the provincial NDP and an even harder time imagining that some New Democrats are not thinking that it may be past time for their provincial-wing to get a fresh face sitting in the admiral’s chair.
Current leader Brian Mason has served his party faithfully through two stormy elections and holds the second most thankless job in the province (the first currently being held by Liberal leader Raj Sherman). Mr. Mason has years of experience in the Assembly, but after more than two decades as a municipal and provincial politician he is hardly the fresh face that NDP may need to make an Orange splash in the next provincial election.