Topp backed by 2 more MPs
Brian Topp is building his support within the NDP caucus and announced Friday that two more MPs are backing him for leader of their party.
New Brunswick MP Yvon Godin and Quebec MP Alain Giguère announced their pick at a news conference with Topp on Parliament Hill.
"I believe he will be a great leader," Godin said, adding that Topp was instrumental in helping the party's former leader Jack Layton build the party and propel it to Official Opposition status in the May 2 election. Layton died of cancer in August.
"He's got great experience across the country and he's a team worker and that's what I'm looking for," said Godin.
Topp is one of two declared candidates in the race so far, the other is Quebec MP Romeo Saganash. Another Quebec MP, Thomas Mulcair, is widely expected to join the contest. Several other MPs are thinking about running.
Topp is a longtime NDP backroom organizer and was elected president of the party in the spring. He resigned that position earlier this week because of his leadership bid. He was the first candidate to declare his intention to enter the race and has been busy collecting support and endorsements in the last week. NDP heavyweights Roy Romanow, Topp's former boss, and Ed Broadbent have thrown their support to Topp. When he announced his candidacy, Quebec MP Francoise Boivin was at his side.
Godin acknowledged some of his colleagues in the NDP caucus will be going against Topp for the job, but said he has to pick one candidate, and Topp's his choice.
Mulcair hasn't officially entered the race yet, but if and when he does, he will be considered a tough rival for Topp. Mulcair is a former provincial politician in Quebec and won the NDP's only seat in the province in a 2007 by-election in Outremont, a Liberal stronghold. Mulcair has been working on the NDP's fortunes in Quebec and in the May 2 election it won 59 seats.
Giguère expressed doubt that Mulcair can broaden his appeal outside of Quebec. "I don't see the support," he told reporters.
Topp said he welcomes all candidates in the race and that he doesn't expect any personal attacks throughout the race, which will end at a leadership convention in Toronto in March.
"I have no doubt there's going to be many great candidates, I encourage them to stand," he said. "We're going to have some great debates and discussion in the party and we're going to show that we've got a great team."
Topp has said previously that he will run for a seat in the House of Commons, but hasn't decided whether to be a candidate in the Toronto-Danforth by-election to fill Layton's vacant seat. That byelection hasn't been called yet and Topp's decision will depend on the timing of it, he said. Topp lives in Toronto.