TORONTO – New Democrats opted Saturday for a rhetorical spear carrier over an ideological puritan, selecting mercurial Thomas Mulcair to carry the official Opposition into electoral battle against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Mulcair, a combative former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister, won the NDP leadership on a fourth ballot, besting longtime party strategist Brian Topp in a contest that severely strained the party’s self-styled tolerance.
A perceived centrist who was once wooed by Harper’s Tories, Mulcair overcame loud complaints that he would abandon social democratic principles in the pursuit of power — a federal pursuit that New Democrats can now truly taste for the first time in their 50-year history.
In the end, a party now dominated by its come-lately orange wave in Quebec went with its star candidate in that province to replace the late Jack Layton, whose sudden death from cancer last August staggered New Democrats just weeks after their spring electoral breakthrough.
Mulcair claimed 57.2 per cent of the vote in the final, head-to-head showdown with Topp on Saturday’s fourth and final ballot.
Mulcair assumes the role of leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition when the House of Commons resumes Monday after a one-week break.
The experienced legislative sparring partner was the candidate most New Democrats conceded was best prepared to hit the ring swinging. He’ll be put immediately to the test when the Conservatives bring down their first budget as a majority government this Thursday.
“Thomas is fearless, Thomas is organized,” NDP MP Charlie Angus said Saturday after his first choice, Paul Dewar, dropped out following the first ballot. “He’s one of the strongest MPs we’ve seen in the House of Commons and he’s certainly a match for Stephen Harper.”
Topp, a close Layton confidant and the first candidate to enter the race just three weeks after his death, fell 8,542 votes short on the final ballot against Mulcair.
He vowed to work with the new leader in a united front against the Conservatives.
Topp had earlier defended his decision to force the final ballot, rather than concede, even after it was clear he could not win.
“I think it’s fit and proper to let the party decide who the leader is and to not have the appearance that it was arranged,” said Topp.
Dark-horse contender Nathan Cullen, written off at the start of the race last fall after proposing co-operation with the Liberals, made it to the final three and cemented his role as a rising star in the party.
Cullen said his strong showing in the contest proves there’s an appetite for co-operating with Liberals.
“Change is in the wind, my friend,” he said. “I think anybody who (thought) New Democrats aren’t open to the ideas of change was obviously mistaken.”
Peggy Nash was eliminated following Saturday’s second ballot, while Paul Dewar, Martin Singh and Niki Ashton all dropped out after the morning’s initial vote.
Mulcair, Cullen, Nash and Dewar are among the NDP’s best parliamentary performers and their long absences on the leadership campaign trail have not helped the official Opposition consolidate its role.
Their return next week should reinvigorate a Commons already boiling with political controversy over allegations of election fraud and the prospect of a ground-shifting federal budget.
The NDP’s weekend leadership showcase, however, was drained of much of its excitement and vigour Saturday by a series of technical delays with the online voting system — although the source of the delay did add a minor element of intrigue.
Party president Rebecca Blaikie confirmed two IP addresses had been isolated as the source of cyber-attacks that appeared designed to slow entry into the system, effectively gumming up the works but not impairing the vote.
“Whoever this is or whatever it came from, their goal was simply to make it a pain to get into our site, to make it harder for people to vote, to block it up with a lot of traffic,” Blaikie said.
Whatever the cause, Mulcair’s victory wasn’t confirmed until late Saturday evening — timing the party had scrupulously planned to avoid.
That wasn’t the only come-down for New Democrats.
The day’s biggest ballot topped out at 65,108 voters, a less than 50 per cent turnout from a party membership that swelled to over 131,000 during the leadership campaign.
About 56,000 people had voted in advance of the convention.
Under the preferential ballot system, in which voters ranked their choices first to last, those 56,000 votes were locked in for all subsequent ballots and couldn’t be influenced by floor-crossing endorsements.
None of the vanquished candidates except Singh — who, as expected, went with Mulcair — chose to publicly endorse another contender.
As it transpired, key endorsements weren’t required.
Mulcair’s high profile in Quebec helped him maintain his status as the candidate to beat. Once a western-based protest party, the NDP’s world has revolved around Quebec since last May’s election, when an unexpected Layton-led wave swept the province and vaulted the party into official Opposition status for the first time in its 50-year history.
As the lone Quebec MP in the hunt, Mulcair made a powerful case as the standard-bearer for a party in which 58 of its current 102 seats came from his home province. Mulcair was the lone New Democrat among those 58 Quebec MPs who held his seat before last May’s federal election.
He has also caused divisions, however, among social democrats who believe he’ll turn the party into a pale imitation of the more centrist Liberals.
Elder party statesman Ed Broadbent lambasted Mulcair as temperamentally ill-suited to leadership in an extraordinary public broadside just two weeks before the convention. Jack Layton’s mother Doris endorsed Topp in the final week.
None of it could stop Mulcair.
NDP Leader Jack Layton will be honoured with a state funeral Saturday in Toronto, senior NDP officials have told CBC News.
The government protocol office is working with the NDP and family of the NDP leader on exactly what the funeral will be.
Condolence books will be set up in Ottawa on Parliament Hill and in Toronto at city hall. Others will be located in NDP constituency offices across the country.
Friends and political foes alike praised Jack Layton on Monday for his warmth, optimism and respect for opponents.
People who squared off across the House of Commons from Layton, including former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae, all spoke warmly about Layton’s commitment to Canadians.
Layton, who led Canada’s Official Opposition, died early Monday morning at his Toronto home after a battle with cancer. He was 61.
Layton’s wife, Olivia Chow, and his children, Sarah and Michael Layton, issued a statement announcing his death.
“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones,” the statement read.
Details about funeral arrangements will be forthcoming, it said. The family released a letter from Layton to Canadians just after noon.
Layton’s death comes less than a month after he announced to the country that he was fighting a new form of cancer and was taking time off for treatment. Layton had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2009 and underwent treatment for it. He continued working throughout that time and also battled a broken hip earlier this year. Layton used a cane for much of his time on the campaign trail this spring as he led the NDP to a historic victory on May 2.
His party claimed 103 seats, and was propelled to official Opposition status. Layton and Chow, a fellow NDP MP from Toronto, moved into Stornoway, the residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition.
Layton and his party were getting used to their new roles in Parliament but he did not appear to be in good health near the end of June. He said he felt pain and stiffness, he underwent tests and they confirmed he had a new form of cancer. He did not disclose what kind of cancer.
Layton’s chief of staff, Anne McGrath, said Monday that Layton’s condition took a quick turn for the worse Sunday night.
She spent a few hours with him Saturday and had a sense that he was losing a battle, but says his campaign slogan – don’t let them tell you it can’t be done – was also a personal slogan.
“It is a huge loss. It is a huge loss for me personally, but it’s a huge loss also for our party and our country,” she said.
McGrath worked with Layton for nearly a decade.
“There’s no question that my heart is broken,” she said.
McGrath said Layton was thinking about what it would mean for the party if he died. When they spoke on Saturday, they talked about upcoming events like the party’s annual caucus retreat in September and what Parliament would be like if he weren’t there.
Layton always liked to be presented with options, McGrath told Evan Solomon on CBC’s Power & Politics, including a plan for what would happen if he died.
“He was very, very practical and he was very much wanting to know that we were going to be able to continue and we were going to be strong,” she said.
After the news of Layton’s death emerged shortly after 8 a.m. ET, friends, colleagues and Canadians reacted quickly and with shock, sadness and tears. The flag on the Peace Tower was lowered to half-mast.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Layton will be remembered for the force of his personality and his dedication to public life.
Speaking from the foyer of the House of Commons, Harper said the two leaders had always talked about getting together to jam.
“I will always regret the jam session that never was. That is a reminder, I think, that we must always make time for friends, family and loved ones, while we still can,” he said.
In a statement earlier Monday, Harper saluted Layton’s contribution to public life and said it would be sorely missed.
“I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight,” he said.
Tributes to Layton poured in from across party lines. Rae said the news took his breath away and that Layton’s death is not just a loss for the NDP, but for all Canadians.
“It’s a loss for the country because he was a political guy who believed strongly in politics and who had a lot of resilience and a lot of guts,” Rae told CBC News.
Longtime NDP leader and MP Ed Broadbent told CBC News he sensed the end was coming, but was still shocked when he got the call Monday morning.
“In each and every election, he moved us forward … he wanted a reason in politics,” Broadbent said.
“Canada has lost a great politician. A man who believed in working for the public good. And I’ve lost a personal friend.”
Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel spoke of one of Layton’s favourite quotes from Tommy Douglas, the founder of the CCF, the NDP’s forerunner. Layton included the quote in every email he sent: “Courage my friends, ‘tis never too late to build a better world.”
“Jack was a courageous man. It was his leadership that inspired me, and so many others, to run for office,” Turmel said in her statement.
“We – members of Parliament, New Democrats and Canadians – need to pull together now and carry on his fight to make this country a better place.”
NDP deputy leader Libby Davies, fighting back tears, said Layton’s death is “an incredible loss.”
“Jack was not only a great leader of the NDP, he’s someone that Canadians across the country came to love. We feel a tremendous sense of loss and grief,” she said.
Davies said Layton brought a sense of humanity to Canadian politics and in his career and his life, especially his battle with cancer, “he gave it his all.”
“We have only love and respect for everything that he did and he leaves some really important legacies in Canadian politics,” she said.
Douglas’ daughter, Shirley, says Layton was the same whether he was in a crowded room or meeting people one-on-one.
“Everywhere I’ve gone, people said ‘You know, we’ve got a leader who cared’,” she told CBC News.
Douglas says she’s worried about Chow.
“That’s the one person I keep thinking about all morning,” she said. “They were so close and when a marriage that is as close as that one … it’s a terrible thing to see that marriage broken apart by this. I just couldn’t say enough to her. She’s a tremendous woman on her own.”
The leader of the Official Opposition announced on July 25 he was stepping away from the job to concentrate on his cancer treatment. He told Canadians he had recently been diagnosed with a new form of cancer, in addition to the prostate cancer he had earlier battled.
What an incredible few days it has been, on many fronts. What a weekend it was for Mr. President. A very gutsy man with balls of steel and a resolve just the same. Who knew from Adam what was going on in his head over the weekend seeing him traveling in the U.S. and yukking it up at the Correspondents dinner on Saturday night.
And who knew what Sunday would bring … I just cannot imagine.
I am sure that Mr. Obama’s stock has risen over the past few days. This kill shot was something that I think will translate into better numbers and even help him in the long run for re-election. At least I hope that is what happens. That’s all we need is for some jamokey republican asshole to win an election, God forbid.
At this point I think the White House is channeling some Ricky Ricardo when he says to Lucy “You got some ‘splainin to do!” Pakistan is not going to skate away with this gigantic intelligence flub. Someone was protecting Osama. Someone must have known he was there, I mean it’s pretty clear from all the information that has been released about this event.
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We have had a Royal Wedding, The beatification of John Paul II in Rome, the killing of Osama bin Laden and an election here in Canada. The fallout from the election is huge. The Orange wave came to Quebec and took the province by storm. There were incredible losses for the Bloq. The Bloq leader lost his seat in an upset, and in the end resigned from his position as party leader, not to mention the Bloq lost party status in the House of Parliament. You must have at least 12 seats to be afforded party status, and the Bloq lost in a bloodbath last night. So the Bloq is all but kaput. So much for that referendum.
Mr. Layton won a huge number of ridings here in Quebec. Many freshman young M.P’s are going to Ottawa, and we are so proud of the huge wins by the NDP. Not to mention with 102 seats won, for the first time in history the NDP wins the coveted title of Official Opposition Party in the commons. I mean the room went nuts when Jack Layton walked out to greet the party. My vote made a difference.
The Conservatives won a majority. As I have read on other blogs tonight, the earth did not shift on its axis, we will all survive this. And in the end we hope the government does what it said it will do. Canada needs to work to protect the people of Canada, we need more jobs, a secure financial sector and we need to solidify our place in the worlds eyes.
I questioned the ability of Mr. Ignatieff to win anything that’s why a lot of voters went with Jack. The Liberal party was decimated last night. The leader of the party as well, lost his seat and resigned from the party this morning. A leadership convention is coming. There is rumbling about Justin Trudeau, can he step up, if he is tapped as the heir apparent? Can the magic happen? Justin won’t say what he is going to do to that end just yet. At least he won his riding for the Liberal party, beating out the Bloq incumbent.
We saw history happen last night. The total collapse of the Bloq and the Liberal party. I heard it mentioned on the news coverage about Canada moving towards a two party system in Parliament. It seems the voters were over all the drama and political bullshit and we all voted for change and hope. The voters have spoken. Now the parties MUST rise to the occasion and do what they have been mandated to do.
A good chunk of Quebec went orange, with hints of red and blue here and there. Mr. Layton’s crop of young bloods have got some serious shoes to fill.
So much to look forwards to in the coming months.
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Here on the home front we are in the final weeks of classes. I have class tomorrow night and then a final and essay due on Thursday night, which I still have to write yet, then my final interview to come next week on the 9th.
It rained today. But numbers were nominal for the meeting. Lots of new faces and the conversation was nice and lively. We are pleased with what we have for today.
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So what do we know ???
- The Princess got her man
- Obama got Osama
- The NDP won big in Canada
Life goes on and we will all survive. The world is a safer place because the face and person of evil is dead and is floating at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, Thanks be to God.
The era of Osama is over.
Well Done Mr. President. We are so very proud of you…
They say that it is supposed to rain and rain and rain some more. But they haven’t been very good at forecasting in recent days. The city was supposed to get a deluge of rain, but that didn’t happen. It’s just a little drizzly out, enough to make it dark and gloomy.
There is a hockey game tonight, so that affected tonight’s numbers. But still, we had a good turn out nonetheless. In the end the night turned out good. The new format is flourishing and there is money in the kitty to cover prudent reserve.
This is an odd month, because I have back to back shifts at the phones on Thursday (my 4th Thursday) and on Friday (my 5th Friday). I got a call from the DLP the other night for my Friday, before I got a call for my Thursday, and for a moment I thought I missed a shift, but I didn’t.
We are coming to the end of term at Dawson. Two more weeks and everything will be finished. I don’t have the term book for summer studies yet. I have a few things that have to get done in the next few days and a final project that I have yet to work on for French. (let us pray…)
The 2011 election campaign is in its final days and the push is on for all parties to get out the message. Facebook has been a crucial tool in getting the vote out and we are hoping that we get a good turnout at the polls this coming Monday.
If you’re a citizen and you can vote – there is no excuse for you not to vote. The very future of Canada hangs in the balance. People we have to vote. Voting is a privilege, exercise your right and get out there and vote. There are several mass media campaigns out there on Facebook, Twitter and online to get people to the polls next week. You Tube is active with all parties posting ads on the Tube.
That’s about it from here tonight.
I need to eat dinner and do some homework. Yay Homework …
More to come, stay tuned.
I voted today in early voting … Orange all the way …
VANCOUVER— Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2011 7:47PM EDT
The NDP is rapidly outdistancing the Liberals and has whittled the Conservative lead to single digits – a level of support that would see Jack Layton win 100 seats on May 2, says the latest poll from EKOS Research.
Under that scenario, the NDP would still come in second in seat count to the Conservatives, but the support of the third-place Liberals would give Mr. Layton a working majority in the House of Commons.
“We’re in terra incognita here,” EKOS president Frank Graves said.
The EKOS poll, conducted from April 22 to April 24, gave the Conservatives 33.7-per-cent support nationally among decided and leaning voters; the NDP had 28-per-cent support; the Liberals, 23.7 per cent; the Green Party, 7.2 per cent; and the Bloc Québécois, 6.2 per cent.
If those numbers held true on election day, it would be the worst showing in the history of the Liberal Party, and the best result by far for the NDP. A seat projection using the EKOS poll indicated the Conservatives would lose seats, dropping to 131, while the NDP would garner 100 seats, more than double its previous best result; more than half of those seats would come from Quebec. The Liberal caucus would be much reduced, falling to 62 seats. And the Bloc would be a shadow of itself, with a caucus of just 14 MPs.
The EKOS poll is showing stronger levels of support for the NDP in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces than other polls, but the trend of sharply rising poll numbers for the party is consistent with other surveys. The level of support for the Conservatives is lower than other recent surveys – and the size of the Tory lead is about half of other polls.
In Quebec, the New Democrats lead with 38.7 per cent of the vote, with the Bloc far back at 25.2 per cent, while the Conservative support pegged at 14.7 per cent and the Liberals in fourth place with 13.1 per cent.
The poll of 2,783 voters is considered to be accurate within 1.8 percentage points. As with other polls, the margin of error for regional breakdowns is much higher.