The House

In House: taking the pulse of the NDP convention

Our In House panelists, the Globe and Mail's Laura Stone and Canadian Press parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup, join The House to discuss the big questions from the NDP convention, starting with the biggest one: what will happen to Tom Mulcair?
The NDP will pass judgment on Tom Muclair's leadership this weekend at a party convention in Edmonton. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Our In House panelists, the Globe and Mail's Laura Stone and Canadian Press parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup, join The House in Edmonton to discuss the big questions from the NDP convention.

First, the question on everyone's minds — will Tom Mulcair hold onto power?

Laura Stone: I'm hearing a lot of indecision, that a lot of people are split and they haven't actually made up their minds yet [on how they'll vote]. They're waiting to hear from Tom Mulcair in his speech on the floor on Sunday morning.

Kristy Kirkup: I certainly think he's going to have to really make his case. [Former NDP MP] Peggy Nash suggested that in her op-ed earlier this week, calling on him to ditch his talking points and speak from the heart. It will be interesting to see whether or not he actually does that. That was one of his great struggles during the campaign, he really tried to stick to the script and he seemed kind of uncomfortable working a big room. I think there are a lot of people privately who are having discussions and wondering whether or not he is an effective salesperson. This is not about Tom Mulcair's intelligence or his ability to perform in the House of Commons. This is about Tom Mulcair's ability to actually connect with Canadians. 

How do you think the vote on Sunday will play out?

KK: I'm not going to place any bets, but based on my conversations I do think Tom Mulcair is very keen on staying on, and I don't think even if he got 65 per cent, that he would decide to go right away. I think Tom Mulcair gets through the weekend, but in 2018 there's another one of these conventions — and I think it's going to be a very long and difficult road ahead for Tom Mulcair. 

LS: I do agree that he purposely hasn't given a number because he's not sure what kind of support he'll get. I've also heard from senior officials the potential of even as low as 55, 60 per cent. I'm not as convinced as Kristy that he's going to walk away the leader of the party after this convention.

The Leap Manifesto resolution will be debated at the convention on Sunday morning. What does this signal for the future direction of party policy?

KK: With the Alberta premier coming out in a TV segment and saying she's in favour of pipelines, I think that's a direct response to some of the conversations that are happening at the convention [around Leap]. This is not what they want for Alberta. They have worked so hard to say we're in favour of resource development and tackling climate change. And I think that [the Leap Manifesto] really sets that message off the rails.

LS: I think the good news for Tom Mulcair is that this buys him a few years. The resolution in favour of the manifesto says to go back to your riding associations, debate this, and in a couple years we'll gather again and discuss it. Tom Mulcair is in this mess because he tried to be something he wasn't. If this is what the grassroots wants, and [Leap Manifesto signatory] Avi Lewis is a very popular guy at this convention, then why doesn't [Mulcair] embrace what the party wants? It might be trouble provincially in Alberta, but what's the problem in taking that leap and going forward with this?

This interview has been condensed and edited. 


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