Q&A: Former NDP MP Joe Comartin on NDP leader Tom Mulcair

Former MP Joe Comartin of Windsor is critical of the decision to keep Mulcair on until his permanent replacement is chosen.
Former NDP MP Joe Comartin talks about his hope for the new leadership. (CBC)

During the NDP's national caucus meetings in Montreal, Tom Mulcair emerged with unanimous support from the national caucus to lead the party. 

But not everyone agrees with that support.

Former NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh  Joe Comartin is critical of this move to keep Mulcair on until his permanent replacement is chosen. 

He spoke with CBC News about Mulcair's future with the party and predictions for who will take the permanent leadership role. 

Comartin's answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

What do you think of Thomas Mulcair's original decision to stay as leader until somebody new was chosen?

I didn't agree with it. I thought that when you have a vote like that you lose such credibility in the country. We get very little attention in the media. The NDP was non-existent for the whole summer. We're down in the polls, not getting much attention at all. It was a mistake for him to take it on.

What effect has it had on the party?

There certainly was division within the party. The caucus made the decision that they wanted him to stay on. But within the party, the larger part of the party, it was certainly a strong feeling that it was a mistake, that somebody else should have been asked to take it on. 

How would things be different if there was an interim leader?

If you look back to the role Nycole Turmel played after Jack Layton stepped down because of his health, she was able to keep our strong presence showing in the House of Commons. The NDP voice was heard. The opposition we had to government was heard. I've seen very little of that in the present circumstances under Mulcair.

What about in the long term?

I've been in the party for over 40 years and I've heard that at various times that the NDP was just going to disappear. I don't think that's going to happen. We clearly have a lot of rebuilding to do. The Liberals right now are very strong and a good deal of the vote that we lost has gone to them. We have to get that back. Long-term I think we will do it.

Who are some of the people you would expect to run for the leadership? 

I expect right now Peter Julian will come in from British Columbia. I'm not sure about Charlie Angus from Ontario, but I think he`s a real possibility. I expect Niki Ashton is going to come in as well from Manitoba. I think those three will all come through.

The NDP's next leader will be elected by the party in October 2017.