NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair rallied party delegates Saturday with a message designed to resonate with middle-class Canadians, full of references to income inequality, Conservative cuts to Old Age Security and Employment Insurance, and health care.
"Every day I hear from Canadians who know what it's like to be on the outside, looking in," Mulcair said. "There's no place for them in [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper's Canada."
Calling Canada a wonderful and progressive country at its heart, Mulcair said Canadians understand that "we are all better off when we take care of one another — when we lift each other up."
The speech opened by retracing the party's roots as a Prairies protest party, to be led later by Baptist preacher Tommy Douglas and then by Jack Layton, who emphasized hope.
Mulcair spoke just after the party announced the results of his confidence vote. NDP delegates voted 92.3 per cent against holding a leadership contest, or in favour of Mulcair's leadership.
Much of the second day of the NDP's policy convention in Montreal put the spotlight on Mulcair, one year after he was chosen to succeed Jack Layton.
Delegates debated social and environmental policy resolutions on Saturday. A resolution to decriminalize sex work was referred to the party's federal council rather than going to a vote. A resolution to support proportional representation passed, with two MPs to travel the country to drum up support for it.
'We will do better'
Mulcair took centre stage Friday night as he answered questions from New Democrats on topics ranging from labour relations to the environment.
"They're attacking workers' ability to have a decent living wage," Mulcair said of the Conservative government's labour reform initiatives. "It's time for us to stand up and say we can do better. We will do better."
Before Mulcair took the stage Friday, delegates viewed a video featuring some of his family and friends talking about his work and his family life before he became NDP leader.
Party officials say they want people to have the chance to see a different side of Mulcair, one that Canadians won't see when he does verbal battle with the prime minister in question period.
On Friday, delegates voted on motions:
- Supporting supply management in the dairy, egg and poultry sectors.
- Reaffirming its commitment to collective bargaining.
- Reaffirming its commitment to pay equity.
- Strengthening the employment insurance system.
- Commiting to continuing funding for Via Rail.