Thomas Mulcair, MP for Outremont and deputy leader of the NDP, announced his intention to run for leadership of the NDP party last week.
Mulcair, who graduated from McGill in 1977, was last at McGill in September to speak at the Science and Policy Exchange, where he refused to cross picket lines formed by the striking McGill University Non-Academic Certified Association (MUNACA).
“After Jack [Layton]’s death we were all in a period of deep mourning and shock,” said Mulcair. “I had to make sure I had Canadian support and the support from my caucus colleagues.”
“I have the support of 33 MPs, which is more support than all other candidates put together,” he continued, adding that he counts Lorne Nystrom, former Saskatchewan NDP MP, and Dominic Cardy, leader of the New Brunswick NDP, as supporters of his campaign.
Mulcair, who has campaigned on the idea that he will be pushing centrist policies for the party, said that he hopes he can bring a new direction to the party.
“The most important thing for me is that the vision we have always had for Canada in the NDP can start to be a reality by forming the first NDP government,” he explained.
Mulcair gave examples such as Gary Doer, former Manitoba premier and current US ambassador for Canada, and former Saskatchewan premier, Lorne Calvert, as examples of centrist NDP leaders who have had successful governments. “What they were able to do was convince their voters that they would provide stable, confident public administration,” he said.
“People have to be sure, before they are going to elect a new government, that they are actually going to be able to balance the books, do a good job, respect their social democratic values, and their roots, but at the same time convince the public that they can be elected,” he continued.
Mulcair referred to his previous experience in Quebec City and in his Outremont riding, where he was elected as an MP for the third time in the last May’s federal election, as examples of his success in government.
He also spoke of the success that the NDP had in the previous federal election, stating that “what [Layton and I] did in Quebec was unique. We connected with people on the level of their values. We were able to reach beyond the traditional base and we were able to produce extraordinary results.”
When asked about the ongoing MUNACA strike, Mulcair said, “They have my full support.”
“The University itself boasts quite proudly, and rightly so, that it is one of the best universities in the world, and those support workers are an integral part of making McGill one of the best universities in the world,” he continued.
Brian Topp, current president of the NDP, is among Mulcair’s competition for NDP leadership. When asked about how Mulcair entering the race will affect his campaign, Topp stated that, “I’m going to focus on my own campaign and, in March, members will make their choice.”
Sam Harris, co-president of NDP McGill, said that the group is not yet ready to endorse a candidate for the NDP leadership election this March. Harris explained that it may in the future, but not until all the candidates have submitted their nominations, the deadline for which is January.
Mulcair concluded by saying that the NDP had to move beyond its traditional base. “We have to connect with people across Canada on the level of their values and make them understand that the NDP is really the only real offer to form a progressive government in the next election,” he said.
“Before getting elected we are going to have to connect with the Canadian voting public and make sure they understand we are going to have an experienced, seasoned competent team of senior people who are capable of running a G7 country like Canada,” he continued.