Mulcair wins on fourth ballot
By McGill Reporter Staff
Outremont MP Thomas Mulcair (BCL’76, LLB’77) became the second McGill alum in a row to lead Canada’s New Democratic Party and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons following a drawn-out party convention last Saturday.
Sporting a red McGill tie, Mulcair, who led the field of seven candidates from the first of four ballots, emerged from a contest that ultimately focused on the party’s fundamentals for the future with slightly more than 57 per cent of the votes cast, compared with 42 per cent for his nearest rival, Brian Topp.
The fluently bilingual Mulcair, who also served as a Quebec cabinet minister under Premier Jean Charest, succeeds the late Jack Layton (BA’71). Layton had catapulted the party into official opposition status with a stunning capture of 103 seats in last May’s federal election, including an unprecedented 58 seats in Quebec. (One Quebec NDP MP has since defected to the Liberals.)
Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel had served as interim NDP leader after Layton handed the party’s reins to her last July while he battled a resurgence of cancer. He lost that fight and died on August 22.
Topp and the other five candidates were quick to rally around Mulcair Saturday night, even though many of them held significantly different views on whether the party should hew to the centre to forestall a Liberal renaissance or remain closer to the NDP’s traditional social-democratic positions farther to the left. Mulcair is expected to tug the party nearer to the political centre, and his Québécois roots and sometimes pugnacious performance in the House of Commons were considered by some observers to be the keys to his victory.
Mulcair has spoken on campus on a couple of occasions recently, including to incoming law students last fall before he announced his intention to seek the leadership and to science students in September where he talked about the need for those who study and practice science to continue to provide objective information to politicians and government officials.