NDP president: Mulcair doesn't need 70 per cent to remain leader
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, March 24, 2016 10:05PM EDT
Two weeks before a convention that will include a vote on Tom Mulcair’s leadership, the NDP’s president says Mulcair doesn’t necessarily need 70 per cent support to continue in the top job.
Rebecca Blaikie told CTV Power Play that 70 per cent is “a number I’ve heard a lot in my travels,” and that it’s a number Mulcair is “likely hoping for and targeting.”
“But,” she added, “a number under 70 does not force him to leave, no.”
The NDP's constitution calls for a new leadership vote within a year if more than 50 per cent of members vote against a leader, but there are questions about how the party could remain united if Mulcair gets just over 50 per cent.
Blaikie led a committee that looked into what went wrong for the NDP in the last election, when the party was reduced from 103 seats and official opposition status to just 44 seats.
She told Power Play there is “some consensus that the emphasis on balancing the budget in the campaign that came from our campaign was problematic,” considering that the Liberals willingness to run “modest” deficits.
Mulcair told Power Play in February: "If the NDP had started off the campaign by saying, 'You know, we've got this idea, we're going to run consecutive deficits of tens of billions of dollars,' I don't know if that would have caught on like wildfire with the electorate.”
However, he told The Globe and Mail last week that he would be open to deficits in order to help people if economic conditions deteriorate.
Regardless of the outcome at the convention in Edmonton, Blaikie said she believes the party will “be able to come together behind that decision and move forward.”
“I think it’s only natural that there would be folks on either side of the argument,” she added. “We’ve also seen a lot of folks come out in strong support of Tom.”
In recent weeks, prominent B.C. MP Nathan Cullen and Quebec’s Alexandre Boulerice have penned opinion columns stating that they back Mulcair.
However, Ontario’s Charlie Angus and Manitoba’s Niki Ashton have refused to back him publicly.
Angus wrote in a Facebook post that he has “always said that the decision lies with the delegates,” and that he is “looking forward to being in Edmonton with caucus and with Tom to hear what our membership think in terms of where we go in the coming years.”
Earlier this month, former Quebec New Democrat MPs Jamie Nicholls, Elaine Michaud and Helene LeBlanc penned a letter saying they did not feel represented by the NDP electoral platform.
Michaud told CTV’s Power Play that she “has her doubts” about Mulcair. “Then again, Tom Mulcair has always called himself a progressive, always said he wanted to defend socialist values,” she said. “I’m still debating.”
Jack Harris, a former NDP from St. John’s, told The Canadian Press “there's a wave of disappointment, so (Mulcair) must present himself as the person who can lead us going forward, and it’s really up to him to do that.”
Some labour activists have also called for new leadership, including Sid Ryan, the former president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
So has Barry Weisleder, a former high school teacher who leads the leader of the NDP Socialist Caucus.
Weisleder told Power Play earlier this month that Mulcair is responsible for election the “disastrous” election results said the party under Mulcair had moved too far to the right wing of the political spectrum.
Weisleder said that Mulcair will not have the confidence of his party unless he receives at least 75 or 80 per cent of the votes in Edmonton.