Craig's Take: NDP leadership race set for drama
Published Friday, October 14, 2011 1:14PM EDT
There may be one more candidate yet to come if NDP critic Peggy Nash jumps into the fray, but with the entry of Quebec's Thomas Mulcair on Wednesday, the party's leadership field is pretty much complete.
Mulcair has a reputation as an uncompromising political slugger who is expected to bring passion and controversy to what up to now has been a lackluster affair.
Mulcair was flanked by a majority of the rookie Quebec MPs elected in May as he threw his chapeau into the ring while also throwing a challenge at the front runner, long-time party strategist Brian Topp, and even at the national party itself.
He scolded the organization putting together the leadership race, saying it was too slow in processing new memberships.
He implied the NDP was unfair to Quebecers who in the past had so little organization in the province and therefore, not very many registered members, only about 2 per cent of the national total.
Since this race is a one-man, one-vote selection process, Mulcair is starting well behind and he doesn't like it.
He is clearly running as an outsider, insisting the party must broaden its base beyond the NDP's traditional core support.
In what some saw as a direct snub of Brian Topp, who is supported by the party establishment including its influential former leaders and the labour movement, Mulcair told his opening news conference he did not want to see a party catering only to well-connected insiders and elites.
Although Topp was born in Quebec himself, he did not spend his career in that province and few people knew of his connections there.
One can almost sense the tension between Topp's campaign centered principally in English-speaking Canada and Mulclair's Quebec-based bastion.
This must be a worry for the NDP's top brass since following the May election, theirs is now a party dominated in the commons by Quebec MPs.
You'll have a chance to make your own judgments this week on Question Period since Topp and Mulcair will both appear on the program.
We'll also assess the reasons and the implications behind the Occupy movement, which is now on its way to Canada including plans to move in on this country's financial district in Toronto.
Some analysts see something of a revolution in this successful bottom-up ground swell. These activists have taken the communications tools of the digital new age, which at other times may have been used by elites to control their society and turned it against them.
In fact, they have been using smart phones and social media to topple hierarchies all through the Arab world and in Canada, the new Alberta Premier Alison Redford toppled the old guard of the Conservative Party in that province by connecting people through social media.