Calgary

Mulcair 'a lame duck,' says political scientist on NDP convention results

Tom Mulcair wanted a robust vote for his NDP leadership at this weekend’s party convention in Edmonton in order to stay on as leader. He got something less, with 52 per cent of delegates voting yes to a leadership race.

‘48 per cent is quite a public rebuke of Mulcair by his party’

Tom Mulcair casts his vote for the party leadership during the 2016 NDP Federal Convention in Edmonton on Sunday. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Tom Mulcair wanted a robust vote for his NDP leadership at this weekend's party convention in Edmonton in order to stay on as leader.

He got something less, with 52 per cent of delegates voting yes to a leadership race.

And for seasoned Calgary political scientist Duane Bratt, that was nothing less than a rebuke of Mulcair's leadership.

"I think that was going to be a difficult leadership review for him but I never imagined he would get as low a number as he got. I was thinking somewhere in the 60s but not 48 per cent," Bratt tells CBC News.

"To put this into context the last time a major federal party leader lost a leadership review was Joe Clark in 1983. Joe Clark got 67 per cent support."

A special ethics and accountability committee tasked with reforming Alberta's electoral system has been busy this summer. (CBC)

Bratt says the defeat can be, in part, attributed to disappointing federal election results in October.

"He was leading in the polls when the campaign began and they ended up as the third place party," Bratt said.

"But second, he moved the party more towards the centre, particularly on budgets. He said they were going to run a balanced budget, and allow the Trudeau Liberals to outflank them on the left. So I think there was opposition within his party about how he lost and why he lost."

Mulcair has said he would stay on as interim leader until a new leader is chosen, which could take up to two years.

"He is a lame duck. This isn't a case like Rona Ambrose who is the interim leader of the Conservatives. This is a very different situation where he has been publicly defeated by his party yet continues to lead them. Once that is done I think Mulcair's political career is over."

Bratt said at the top of the list of conflicts the next leader will face is a document pushing for a very different approach to environmental issues than the status quo.

"The other major division within the party besides over leadership was over this Leap Manifesto which is a very radical document, significantly altering capitalism, getting rid of fossil fuels, banning any future pipelines. The [federal] NDP passed a resolution to continue debating and discussing this at the grass roots level," he said.

Rachel Notley's provincial NDP has come out in opposition to the manifesto.

"This will be a defining feature of the [federal] leadership race. What is their position on the Leap Manifesto? I saw an obvious split between the worker wing of the party and the environmental wing of the party and it is going to be difficult to bring those two together," Bratt said.

"That is going to be the real challenge of any future leader."

With files from Julien Lecacheur

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