Politics

Megan Leslie rules out NDP leadership bid: 'I don't want it'

Former NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie will not be running for party leadership in the race to replace Tom Mulcair, she told Chris Hall in an interview on The House midweek podcast.

Former deputy leader says party needs a leader who carves image for NDP distinct from Liberals

Former NDP MP Megan Leslie explains why she's not interested in replacing Tom Mulcair as leader of the party. 15:16

Former NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie will not be running for the party leadership.

"I am not," she told host Chris Hall in an interview on The House midweek podcast.

"I'm tired. My energy has gone. I don't have the passion in me right now for politics," Leslie said. "The NDP deserves a leader who has that passion, who wants it. And I don't want it."

Leslie, who lost her long-held Halifax seat in the Liberal sweep of Atlantic Canada in last fall's federal election, isn't ruling out an eventual return to politics, but said it wouldn't occur before Canadians head to the polls again in 2019.

She added that whoever is chosen to lead the party into the next election — and take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — doesn't necessarily need to come from within the party's current ranks.

"I think that'd be exciting [to have an outsider]. There are a lot of options out there, there's 36 million Canadians," she said. "We will cast the net far and wide."

The NDP has two years to choose its new leader before the next convention. Until then, Mulcair will stay on to helm the party.

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair makes a speech at the 2016 NDP Federal Convention in Edmonton on Sunday April 10. The party opted to call for new leadership. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

As for who will replace him, Leslie didn't touch on any of the names that have been floated as possible successors, but opened up on the type of leader the party will be looking for.

"We need someone youthful. I don't think age matters, but I think youthfulness matters," she said.

"We need someone who understands what it means to be a social democrat, and can look at what the Liberals are doing and actually make a distinction. We don't need someone who blurs those lines."

Taking a Leap

Leslie also discussed the relationship the NDP will have with the Leap Manifesto over the next two years, after the party voted at last week's convention to debate the document at riding associations across the country.

The manifesto was spearheaded by documentary filmmaker Avi Lewis and his wife, anti-capitalism activist and author Naomi Klein, and was released during last fall's election campaign.

It calls for more drastic action to combat climate change, including a move away from fossil fuels and pipelines.

"It's really unfortunate how it all played out around Leap," said Leslie, who supported the resolution calling for party debate of its principles.

"The resolution was about having conversations. Some of the principles, they're not going to work for all of Canada but let's think about it, let's have a discussion," she said.

Former NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies discusses her support of the Leap Manifesto and how it could reinvigorate the NDP 9:52

Leslie added that conversation will be "difficult." 

"I don't think we have really well-rounded policies when it comes to pipelines, when it comes to that social democratic perspective on environment," she said. 

That's where the federal NDP could take a lesson from the Alberta branch of the party, she said.

"They are figuring out how to be social democrats, how to be environmentalists in Alberta, and how to win. And I don't think that we as a federal party have done that."

Leadership race 'incredible opportunity'

There's time now for that kind of soul-searching as the party figures out where it goes next, said Leslie, adding that lessons from the NDP's disappointing third-place finish last fall will help shape that conversation.

"Our platform was extraordinary, our communications were not," she said. "If I'm being brutally honest, we didn't really talk about our platform."

Still, Leslie said the leadership race will be an "incredible opportunity."

"Now is the time. There will be incredible renewal. I don't know how it's going to go, but it's exciting."

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