Friday, September 16, 2011

NDP leadership race: Brian Topp or Thomas Mulcair?

Brian Topp or Thomas Mulcair?

The NDP leadership race may come down to that, but these sorts of things do not always turn out as expected.
In six months, the New Democratic Party will choose its next leader. As is often the case this early in a leadership race, identifying the likely winner is a mug’s game.

Brian Topp, the NDP’s president, is the only officially declared candidate, but Thomas Mulcair, one of two deputy leaders and the only NDP Quebec MP to have been elected prior to 2011, is almost certainly going to throw his hat in the ring as well. They are, at this stage, the frontrunners.

Mulcair is the NDP’s most well-known figure in Quebec and was an important part of the party’s success in that province. He has won three elections in his Montreal riding of Outremont, and was a cabinet minister in Jean Charest’s provincial Liberal government before entering federal politics.

Topp, however, seems to have the backing of the party brass. He recently received a high-profile endorsement from Ed Broadbent, former leader of the party and, before Jack Layton, their most successful. Fluently bilingual (and not just passably so), Topp can communicate with the NDP’s massive Quebec caucus and the party’s new supporters in the province and is only limited by his much lower profile in Quebec.

You can read the rest of the article at The Huffington Post Canada website here.

Five provinces with a combined population of 16.2 million people are heading to the polls in a matter of weeks, and no poll since Tuesday?

I know that we'll see some polls out of PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador before their campaigns end, but I'm shocked that there hasn't been anything out of Manitoba since June. The last poll had Tories and the NDP tied - tied! - and no one has ordered another poll to see what is going on. Come on, Manitoba! I know you have the Jets back, but focus!


  1. Interesting that last nights At Issue panel thought that Mulcair may just not run. They felt the slap down from Broadbent and the known facts about Mulcair's difficulties with dealing with other people might have persuaded him not to run.

    Time will tell of course.

  2. That's true, Mulcair just might not run. I imagine that if he doesn't, Topp will win rather easily.

  3. I don't see much challenge for Topp except from Mulcair. That said there are all sorts of new members from Quebec, there are six months to go before the vote, who's to say who will surge out of the herd ??

    Yet we can't remove Mulcair. Anyone with that much ego isn't going to hang back long ?

  4. Expect a Probe Research poll for Manitoba to be released sometime next week. Manitoba polling firms are lazy so hopefully we get more than one before the campaign is done.

  5. Paul Dewar might be the best option- he is likeable, electable (Ottawa Centre MP), not too ideological and represents a riding on the Quebec/Ontario border.
    Brian Topp's biggest challenge is his lack of electoral experience. Mulcair will be hamstrung for his love for Israel.

  6. That is incorrect from the previous anonymous according to Winnipeg Free Press columnist Bruce Owen. In the bottom of one of his blog posts he squeezed in some important polling info. According to him there will be 3 polls released during this campaign. 1)Angus Reid at the half way point 2)Angus Reid just before election day 3) Probe Research just before election day.

  7. I would like Paul Dewar to enter the race, but I do not think he or many other frontbench NDP MPs would want to compete against Brian Topp and his backroom machine.

    Mulcair or some other newbie Quebec MP would likely be the runner up in the race.

    Topp already has the support of Broadbent, and it is perceived that he was Layton's personal pick for his successor.

    Not having a seat in the commons shouldn't be an issue for Topp. Mulroney didn't have electoral experience when he became PC leader. Trudeau became party leader and PM after having only three years of experience as MP.

    Imagine a debate between Harper and Topp. Two intelligent men that lack charisma, but are excellent political strategists.

    - Maple

  8. Hey Maple. I don't think Brian Topp lacks charisma, it's not over the top, but he does have some. In fact, he can come across rather charming at times on the tube. He, and Mulcair, have a very good grasp of the issues and policy, or at least can sound as if they do, something that appears lacking with some of the other potential candidates. And keep in mind that we're not in a minority situation, so there is time for growth, exactly what Jack Layton did. Pundits at first criticized his mustache, being Toronto centric, too left, speaking too fast, blah, blah ... and then what happened! Same for Broadbent.

  9. The conventional wisdom is that it will be Topp or Mulcair. However, I'm betting Peter Jullian (sp?) or Mathan Cullen out of BC might pull an upset. Topp was out in BC this past week and he went over like a lead balloon. While top NDPers are behind him, the grassroots is not. His pandering to Quebec on House of Commons seats and the Clarity Act is really upsetting people. The same is true of Mulcair.

    Since the leadership will be decided by one member one vote, a bilingual Westerner who takes a more centrist and federalist approach could rack up a huge majority of the large existing membership in the West. Don't forget NDP members in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and to a lesser extent BC, tend to be less ideological and more populist. In BC many NDPers voted Reform in 1993 as a populist backlash to Neach Lake and the establishment in Ottawa. In subsequent elections they moved back to the NDP.

    The vast majority of the NDP's existing memberships are in Western Canada and a candidate from Vancouver like Jullian could easily sell just as many new memberships in Vancouver (especially with the large ethnic community) as Mulcair could sell in Quebec.

    It would be a difficult road to navigate - of not offending the Quebec wing of the party too much will still playing to the western wing of the party - but it could be done.

    Had the NDP adopted the Conservative approach of each riding having an equal number of points or electoral votes - irrespective of the number of memberships in the riding - then Mulcair might have had a chance. But given the system they adopted it will either be a party insider like Topp who has the national "Party Brass" behind him or a populist bilingual Western challenger, like Cullen or Jullian, who will win.

  10. The Globe and Mail is reporting that Romeo Saganash is in, so that is at least one Quebec MP running.

  11. I will take the opposing view and state that I am totally unimpressed by either Topp or Mulcair.

    Topp is a party bureaucrat who, if he has any charisma, is hiding it really well. Yes, he looks good on paper and is definitely smart, but he never stood for election and we saw how someone like that (Rocco Rossi) recently fared. Let's face it, 98% of Canadians never even heard of him until a few weeks ago (members of this discussion obviously have:)). Jack Layton may have lacked a profile across Canada but he had a very strong one in Toronto and Ontario. Topp has none!

    Mulcair on the other hand doesn't lack charisma but comes across as a loose cannon. His comment on Bin Laden not being dead are straight from a 1970s CIA conspiracy movie. He will put a foot in his mouth - I have no doubt of that. In addition, can he really balance Quebec interests that he helped push within the NDP with a national viewpoint?

    So who else? Frankly, the others are a mixed bag. while there are some like Dewar or Nash, that would have some appeal to the party faithful, I just don't think it will happen. An outsider (such as Gary Doer) may actually be a much smarter choice.

  12. Interesting to see a Cree native join the race, Saganash.

    Are the natives unhappy?? (g)

  13. if the NDp dont go with Mulcair they are finshed in Quebec that is a no brainer, Topp imploded this week in BC and it shows how ameatuer and back room this guy really is. Other than that who is there? some of the BC NDP? they are not electable Canada wide at all.

  14. "Brian Topp's biggest challenge is his lack of electoral experience."

    So true and wrong. Massive electoral experience, knowing how why and when, knowing elections and strategy from, well, top to bottom. Not however being put in front of electors wanting leadership. That however will be tested over the next several months, and if found wanting will propel another to the lead, but, as a pre-race handicap, it doesn't exist.

    If he can't get the NDP membership to elect him, it will be because he doesn't have the chops for this jobs.

    But there is no indication, in his writing, speaking and interviews that any of that will be a problem.

    Authentic and frumpily charming, he reminds me of a sober John A. MacDonald, if that oxymoron is acceptably ironic.

  15. "Topp imploded this week in BC and it shows how ameatuer and back room this guy really is."

    If it was spelled correctly, I'd worry it was written in the PMO, or do they, like the tea partyists in the US, misspell in order to look "grassroots'?

    "Imploded" with the direct and indirect support of most of the leaders of the BC NDP, on all sides.

    Then, getting the endorsement of Roy Romanow, means of course he "imploded" in the prairies.

    If he wins the leadership, Anomynous will declare he "imploded" in Toronto.


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