Northern New Democrats rally around Mulcair

Northern New Democrats say they will support new national leader Thomas Mulcair and his vision for change.
Western Arctic NDP MP Dennis Bevington had supported Ottawa MP Paul Dewar's bid for the party's leadership. Now, Bevington says he sees Mulcair as someone who will lead the party to victory in the next federal election.

Northern New Democrats are lining up behind Thomas Mulcair, the federal party's new leader.

Mulcair won the national leadership on the fourth ballot at a national convention Saturday in Toronto.

Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington had supported Ottawa MP Paul Dewar, who visited Yellowknife earlier this month.

Now, Bevington says he sees Mulcair as someone who will lead the party to victory in the next federal election.

"I endorsed Paul Dewar and I thought he was a very good candidate," he said.

"But in the end, it was Mr. Mulcair who showed that he had the support across the country, and that people are willing to gather behind him, and I pledge my support to him as well."

Liz Hanson, Yukon's NDP leader and head of the territory's Official Opposition, is also throwing her support behind Mulcair.

Mulcair campaigned on moving nearer the centre of the political spectrum, an area largely inhabited by the Liberal party.

Two of the three top candidates lobbied for change.

Nathan Cullen, who finished third, advocated holding joint nomination meetings with Liberal and Green party candidates where there was a chance at defeating Conservative candidates.

Hanson says the shift among New Democrats, from social justice to broader issues like economics, is healthy.

"I think they’re not exclusionary visions. They [Mulcair and Cullen] just express them differently," Hanson said.

"One of the things they both do is really reach out to all Canadians and that was pretty powerfully delivered in Whitehorse and Toronto."

Mulcair knows North

Hanson said Mulcair's stint as an environment minister in Quebec, and his work on that province's Plan Nord, bodes well for northern issues, especially around resource extraction.

"He clearly understood, talking to people in the North, the issues that we're facing and the opportunities that are there in terms of having a balance," she said.

Nunavut Riding Association president Jessica Thompson says she does not know Mulcair's positions on northern issues.

But Thompson said what she has heard from Mulcair about centrist politics is different than what the media has said.

"What he's trying to do is bring the centre to us. It's not that he's trying to re-orient the NDP towards the centre  it's really the other way around," she said.

"He's trying to build an open and inclusive party that really has a place in it for all those progressive Canadians who really want an alternative."

Thompson says that's an idea that all party members can rally behind.