|A small Quebec orange wave |
in the 2007 byelections
Then there's the criticism of Thomas Mulcair's ego comes shortly after the Globe and Mail published an article entitled "NDP firebrand toots his own horn". The article itself is Mulcair stating his case for a leadership run of the NDP and is professionally written. However, the title suggests he is holding a press conference and acting like Donald Trump when President Obama's released his long-form birth certificate. Could the Globe and Mail editors be editorializing? That never happens, right?
Now, to be honest, every politician has an ego. No one stands in front of crowds and suggests that his or her election will result in the betterment of the people can be stricken with low self-esteem. From the lowliest middle-manager in a "push-button" company to Federal politics, those who enjoy power often have an enlarged sense of self regardless of their affiliations. Does Thomas Mulcair have an ego? Of course he does. It just isn't a particular characteristic unique to him and certainly shouldn't disqualify him from being a candidate to the leadership of the NDP. If you think Jack Layton didn't have an ego, then why was his name on the forefront of every election campaign? It's not a necessarily a bad thing to have an ego.
In his defence, when Ruth Ellen Brosseau was introduced to the ravenous media after her election, it was Thomas Mulcair that stood by and helped her out in the first few interviews. This much-criticized first-term MP was being supported by Thomas Mulcair in her transition to public life.
As for being a "schmoozer", I think that when quick wit and a sharp tongue are seen as detriments, you really have to wonder what qualities you're looking for in a politician.
But the charge of him being "opportunistic" is the one that is the most risible. When Mulcair left provincial politics - and we'll get to that shortly - and moved on at the Federal level, he chose the NDP. He ran in a riding that had been a Liberal stronghold since 1935 (with only a minor Progressive Conservative blip as a result of Brian Mulroney's popularity in 1988) and won the seat for the NPD that had scarcely any positive results in the province. The charge of "opportunistic" can be levelled at a Conservative MP in Alberta who is all but but assured a seat in Parliament once he appears on the ballot. In 2007 Quebec, an NDP MP was somewhat of an aberration. Thomas Mulcair didn't hit the jackpot when he chose the NDP as a party, he selected the party whose views aligned best with his own and sought to make a breakthrough for the NDP in the province. It was, by no stretch of the imagination, not a given nor was it "opportunistic".
So what about his exit from the Quebec Liberals? At the time, two narratives played themselves out. One is the seemingly enduring one of "Thomas Mulcair's ego couldn't handle a demotion" and the other more accurate one is "Thomas Mulcair wouldn't be a part of the Mount Orford shady privatization deal". In a bit of old history, then Provincial Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair had issued an order forcing a construction company to restore a wetland where work had already begun to build housing projects. That's right, Thomas Mulcair was enforcing environment laws: a rarity in Canada. This risked alienating the Laval mayor and just wasn't in the cards for Jean Charest. He preferred to sidestep the province's own environmental laws rather than make enemies of real estate developers and the Laval mayor.
Thomas Mulcair wouldn't play ball so Charest sacked him.
Real estate developers are large contributors to election funds in both municipal and provincial politics. Turns out that of the 59 authorizations given to contractors to fill wetlands in Laval between 2004 and 2010, 39 are related to the Quebec Liberal Party's election fund.
What's a few wetlands if their destruction guarantees to fill the Liberal party's coffers?
Since his exit as Environment Minister, Quebec environmental laws on wetlands have been greatly weakened. Thomas Mulcair stood by his principles and paid the political price. As a result, he chose the NDP in order to make sure he'd never be placed in the same situation again.
To me, this has very little to do with ego and a lot more to do with principle.
As for the other criticism regarding the role of labour organizations within the party, that's up for debate isn't it?
I'm not necessarily advocating his leadership for the NDP. I would only suggest that all candidates should get a chance to outline their vision for the party and the country and then the members can make an informed decision. That some people have already chosen favourites without hearing any specifics on policy is alarming to me. Are the credentials of any one candidate so strong that they outshine all others? I don't think so. There's a plethora of choices for leader within the New Democratic Party.
But this hostility towards Mulcair seems out of place in my view but then, my lack of understanding might be due to the fact that I'm not a "bred-in-the-bone NDPer" either.