Kitchener-Waterloo

Thomas Mulcair 'exactly who we need' as leader, local NDP supporter says

Is it time for the NDP to find a new leader after falling to third party status in the last federal election? Next week, the party is holding a national convention in Edmonton where delegates will decide whether there's a need for a leadership review.

At a convention next week, NDP members will vote on whether a leadership review is needed

Is it time for the NDP to consider a leadership review to replace Thomas Mulcair? The party will be voting on whether there's a need to consider a new leader during a national convention April 8-10 in Edmonton. Delegates from Waterloo region will be there for the vote. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

When the New Democrats fell to third party status after last fall's federal election, some placed the blame for the loss of seats on the party's leader, Thomas Mulcair.

Next week, local party members will join hundreds of other NDP members at a national convention in Edmonton. At it, convention delegates will decide if it's time for a leadership review.

But it seems like Mulcair has the support of local party members who spoke to CBC News.

"There's always things to be worked on," said Denise Carter of the federal NDP riding association in Cambridge.

Like other party faithful, Carter points out that even though the party is no longer the official opposition, they still elected the second highest number of MPs in the party's history - no small feat, she said.

"I really like working with him," Carter said, adding although she will be unable to attend the convention to vote, she hopes there will not a leadership review.

'Exactly who we need'

It's a sentiment shared by Scott Stager Piatkowski, president of the Waterloo Federal NDP and vice president of the Ontario NDP.

He admits he was a Peggy Nash supporter the last time the party had to choose a new leader, following the death of Jack Layton. But he said Mulcair proved to be a good adversary to Harper and he thinks Mulcair is the right person to hold the Liberals to account.

"I've grown to respect Tom Mulcair and I do think he's exactly who we need in Parliament advancing our cause right now," Stager Piatkowski said, adding he will not vote for a leadership review at the convention, being held April 8-10.

In this file photo, the late NDP leader Jack Layton, right, takes the hand of then deputy leader Thomas Mulcair following his address to members of his Quebec caucus at an NDP convention in Montreal Saturday, May 28, 2011. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

"Frankly what we don't need is to be tearing ourselves apart. While there's certainly disappointment at the election result last year, and a feeling that we could have and should have done better, I don't think it's fair to lay the blame for that solely at the feet of Tom Mulcair and we can address those issues without forcing a change in leadership."

Connects with Canadians, young and old

Brothers Joshua and Zachary Demers of Waterloo also think Mulcair should remain at the helm of the party.

"It's a foolish idea to change leaders, I think he's great," 28-year-old Joshua Demers said. "I think he's a very passionate fighter who is very knowledgeable and experienced and also very practical and I think that's something the NDP really needs."

Joshua said it took a few elections for Canadians to get to know Jack Layton. Mulcair just needs some time and Canadians will warm up to him, too, as they learn more about him.

Liberal Leader Justin Trueau, right, greets NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair during a federal election campaign stop at the annual gay pride parade in Montreal, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Zachary Demers, 17, of Waterloo says he thinks Mulcair can connect with Canadians just like Trudeau does. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Zachary, 17, will be attending the convention as a youth delegate and he said even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was known in the election for connecting with voters, particularly younger ones, he feels Mulcair can do the same.

"He seems like a very genuine people person," Zachary said, adding he has shaken the NDP leader's hand and is inspired by Mulcair's story of working his way through school to become a lawyer. Zachary sees himself following a similar path to law school.

"I thought he's been a great leader and a strong voice for the NDP and even with the set-back in the last election with the loss of seats, I still think he's a phenomenal leader," Zachary said. "I think he can do great things if he's kept around."

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