In a race where each candidate sounded very similar and were in “violent agreement” at the beginning, clear differences have definitely emerged to differentiate them.
Take Thomas Mulcair versus Nathan Cullen. Cullen was initially very low on my ballot for his joint nomination proposal, his overall focus on cooperation has wide appeal. Meanwhile, Mulcair talks about expanding the orange tent, but has taken a very different stand on cooperation – even post-electoral. Buried within a Huffington Post interview he takes his stand:
One thing Mulcair is clear on is that he’ll go after Liberal supporters, but won’t work with the rival party.
“N.O.,” he told HuffPost. The NDP tried to form a coalition with the Liberals in 2008 and then the Grits “lifted their noses up on it,” Mulcair said.
The coalition experience taught Mulcair everything he needs to know about the Liberals. They’re untrustworthy and he said he’ll never work with them again, whether in a formal or informal coalition.
“The no is categorical, absolute, irrefutable and non-negotiable. It’s no. End of story. Full stop,” he said.
This is exactly the opposite of what Jack Layton talked about. His 2011 message in Quebec (I shouldn’t have to tell Mulcair) was travailles ensemble – working together. This message was able to rise above the partisan rhetoric and fit with Jack’s promises to “fix Ottawa” and to “make Parliament work.”
Instead Mulcair is flat-out stating that he wants to take the NDP to where the Liberals are, hoping to win at “Old Politics of division” (as some might say).
The sad irony here is that Mulcair currently holds the lead in opinion polling in Quebec, giving the false impression that he is best positioned to maintain the Orange Wave in 2015.
I say false because the 2015 election is still 3 and a half years away. Any new leader will have time to make or break their national personae in that time, and given what I see in Mulcair, I don’t see him maintaining that position.
(h/t Greg Fingas)