Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NDP under Mulcair: government in waiting

The Hill Times:

When Parliament returns, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will face a renewed Conservative government that lost control of its agenda in the spring, but after six months in his job, political observers say, he’ll continue to be an “overwhelming success” as he has managed to solidify the party’s support in Quebec, unite his caucus, and show that his team is a government in waiting.

“I don’t want to exaggerate but I think he’s been an overwhelming success so far in his short time as leader,” said David McGrane, University of Saskatchewan political science professor and an expert on the New Democrats.

Prof. McGrane said that Mr. Mulcair (Outremont, Que.) has been particularly impressive in the way he’s been able to keep support for the party in Quebec, which had been flagging after the Orange Crush that swept the province in May 2011, going strong.

“Overnight he solidified Quebec for them, and after that he really started to make roads in English Canada, particularly in Ontario and even in the west and Atlantic Canada. In terms of the polls it’s been a success so far,” he said.

The NDP trail the Conservatives nationally by just five per cent, with 32 per cent support. The Conservatives sit at 37 per cent while the Liberals sit at 20 per cent and the Greens and the Bloc Québécois sit at six per cent each. The poll was conducted by Abacus Data and released Aug. 15. It’s considered accurate plus or minus 2.2 per cent 19 times out of 20.

Mr. MacLachan said that Mr. Mulcair has been particularly adept at uniting the NDP caucus after the leadership race.

To that end Mr. Mulcair has also done a good job of showcasing other strong NDP players and improving the party’s credibility as a government in waiting.

Mr. Mulcair has also been working to set up a binary in the House of Commons, framing the debates as between the Conservatives and the New Democrat Official Opposition and pushing the Liberals and their leader Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Ont.) out of the picture.

Prof. McGrane said that Mr. Mulcair has been “very effective” at this so far.

“More and more Canadians are only seeing politics in a very polarized fashion between the NDP and the Conservatives,” said Prof. McGrane.

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