Tom Mulcair reaffirmed today that he will stay on as leader of the NDP until a successor is chosen.
Emerging from a lengthy meeting with his caucus, Mulcair said his MPs asked him to stay until the next leadership convention, which will be held within two years.
"This was the best caucus meeting I've ever attended," he said, when asked whether some in the caucus had tough words following a vote at the party's weekend convention to replace him as leader. "Every single member of caucus got to say every single thing that was on their mind."
Mulcair, surrounded by applauding MPs, described it as an "inspiring, uplifting and positive" meeting.
Divisive party convention
That show of a united front comes after the bitterly divisive convention in Edmonton, when only 48 per cent of grassroots New Democrat delegates supported Mulcair continuing as leader. The other 52 per cent voted to hold a leadership convention to replace him.
And beyond the public show of solidarity, it was clear not all MPs agreed with the decision to keep Mulcair on the job. Carefully choosing his words, B.C. MP Don Davies said caucus emerged united after all positions were "vigorously expressed."
On Monday, he said he thought it would be difficult for Mulcair to stay on, and he repeated that view today.
"My position was that coming out of the convention, that we had a democratic vote," he said. "I thought the vote was clear and that Mr. Mulcair would be best advised to, I guess, act in accordance with that."
Stability and continuity
Mulcair said he will work tirelessly to fundraise, hold the government to account in the House and work with the grassroots members to promote the party's social democratic values.
"The reason I'm here is to ensure that we have stability and continuity as we prepare to have a new leader. That's what the members decided," he said. "In the meantime, I was elected by the entire membership [to be] leader, caucus has asked me to stay on until that leadership review and I'm proud to be able to do that."
Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus said there were "mixed minds" among caucus members heading into the meeting.
"As we had those very spirited and good discussions, at the end we had a very strong sense of solidarity out of the caucus that what Tom put on offer made sense, and that we agree with and that we support," he said.
Saudi arms deal
Mulcair also responded to reports that Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has signed off on export permits for the controversial $15-billion sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, calling on the government to "come clean."
"The government lied to Canadians about who signed what, when in the Saudi arms deal, and that is a very serious matter," he said.