Thomas Mulcair

Thomas Mulcair

NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair visits Langley

Mulcair served as Jack Layton’s deputy leader and was a key factor in building the party’s profile and base in Quebec.

NDP leadership hopeful Thomas Mulcair visited Langley Friday night, seeking support in the upcoming vote.

NDP members across the country are  voting from now until March 24 to select a leader to replace the late Jack Layton, who led the party to its best showing ever in last May’s federal election. The party won 103 seats, with 59 of those in Quebec.

The NDP are now serving as the official opposition in Ottawa, for the first time ever.  Thus the winner of the leadership race will also be the leader of the official opposition.

Mulcair served as Layton’s deputy leader and was a key factor in building the party’s profile and base in Quebec. He won a byelection in the Montreal riding of Outremont in 2007, much to the surprise of other parties. It was only the second time an NDP candidate had won in Quebec.

He served for 13 years in the Quebec National Assembly, winning three elections as a Liberal. He served as minister of the environment in the cabinet of Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Prior to that, he was a Quebec civil servant and a lawyer. He has now won three federal elections as an New Democrat.

In the leadership race, Mulcair has continuously pointed out that he is best qualified to build on the past success of the NDP under Layton, given the party’s good showing in Quebec. He came under attack from some of his leadership rivals on Sunday at the final leadership debate in Vancouver, with some suggesting he wants to move the party more to the right.

He has crossed the country five times during the leadership race, seeking votes of NDP members,.

“Sixty-five per cent of 18- to 25-year-olds don’t vote,” he told the 50 NDP members who gathered at the B.C. Government Employees Union office in north Langley.

“If  we can get one-quarter of them to support us (and vote), we can win a federal election.

“Lots of people in Canada share our goals and vision, but they don’t vote for us. The last thing we can do is go backwards.”

“We need to consolidate the gains we made under Jack (Layton). Then we can take our ideas, have them come forward and form the government.”

Mulcair took questions from the audience in a spirited session, and did his best to convince them to support him on the preferential ballot. All NDP members are eligible to vote for the new leader. They   will indicate their second, third or following choices. The winner will need to get 50 per cent of the vote. The winner will be announced on Saturday, March 24.

There are seven candidates for the leadership. Other candidates are party president Brian Topp, Ontario MP Peggy Nash, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen, Ontario MP Paul Dewar, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Nova Scotia pharmacist Martin Singh.