02.04.2013 10:24 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: Mr. Angry Invisible

Tom Who?

Thomas Joseph Mulcair, that is, the fellow alleged to be the leader of both the New Democratic Party of Canada and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

You may have heard of him, or perhaps even seen him on TV once or twice. Bearded, greying hair, doesn’t smile much. Bit of a temper.

Just about a year ago, New Democrats gathered in Toronto to select Mulcair as their leader. It was in all the papers at the time.

“Can Mulcair really become a team leader?” one headline queried, and the answer appeared to be “no.” Beneath it, columnist L. Ian MacDonald wrote that the former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister “has never been known as a team player” and had been “always a polarizing figure.”

The folks at Maclean’s purloined a phrase by Yours Truly, and dubbed Mulcair “Mr. Angry” in a pre-convention headline because, well, he is.

“Renowned for his short fuse,” Maclean’s wrote, adding “critics worry about his temperament.”

“Harper has little to fear from Mulcair,” Barbara Yaffe wrote in the Vancouver Sun, and she was certainly right about that, but for a reason no one anticipated last March. Mr. Angry, you see, has become Mr. Invisible.

He is a political missing person. If we didn’t know better, in fact, we’d reckon that Mulcair had entered a witness protection program.

Folks in Ottawa will tell you, at this point, they see Mulcair just about every day in question period (as if question period matters, which it doesn’t).

They’ll say he has been an active and visible leader of the opposition, but that is only true if you consider what happens in Ottawa to be relevant to the everyday lives of everyday folks (which it isn’t).

Out here in the hinterland — that is to say, in the real world — nobody knows or cares much about Angry Tom Mulcair. Sure, he popped up a few months ago to alienate millions of westerners with his musings about “Dutch disease.”

He fulminated about ethics and fighter jets and the economy. He has permitted a bill to ooze out of his NDP caucus that would repeal the Clarity Act and return us to the unity wars of the past.

And, after that … not much.

As Yaffe foretold, but for different reasons, Harper has indeed had little to fear from Mulcair. The ruling Conservatives seem listless and drifting, but they have remained at the top of public opinion polls for much of Mulcair’s tenure as leader of the NDP. The prime ministerial cat, Stanley, lately seems more relevant than the leader of the opposition.

The Liberals, meanwhile, are leaderless, and located in a distant perch in the House of Commons.

But the Grits generate more ink and more interest than Mulcair’s gaggle of former bartenders and golf course employees.

Justin Trudeau, the likely winner of the Liberal leadership contest, is a human ATM, raking in cash and looking like a winner.

Mulcair doesn’t look like a winner. His problem is that he is not Jack Layton. The much-loved, deceased NDP icon was everything Mulcair is not: Smiling, positive, likeable and energetic.

Why NDP delegates would pick Layton’s opposite to be their leader is an ongoing mystery. But they did.

Tom Who? More like, Tom Who Cares.

Canadians, mostly, don’t.


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    Chris says:

    A doppelganger is an exact copy – I’m not sure that’s what you wanted to say there.

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    Sean says:

    Bang on. I count myself as one of those who thought Mulcair would have a chance, maybe even win about a year ago. It has become plainly obvious that the NDP vote of 2011 was a statistical blip, not to be repeated. Sorry to be so blunt, but the polls have been remarkably consistent and unambiguous. The Trudeau surge is real, its not going away. Yes, he’ll come up with some policies some day, but it really doesn’t matter right now if ever.

    This is unfair and brutal to about half of the NDP caucus and staff, now 22 months from losing their jobs. It was faults with the system that put them there in the first place. They can pretend all they want, but their inexperienced and embarrassing caucus shows that they have no business being O.O. and never did.

    Mostly I attribute the 2011 success to a national “hate on” for Ignatieff and for tiredness with Duceppe. The MSM is also highly culpable for giving too much coverage to strategy, personality, phony conspiracy (coalition) and not at all about policy.

    This is precisely why Trudeau will do better than the NDP. Guys like Andrew Coyne can “yakity yak yak” all day about how Liberals need to be better organized, need better policy etc… But when we see his magazine’s photo spread of Trudeau and family, we know such talk is “wink wink nudge nudge” of the highest order. He knows shots with the kids bring in more buck$ for ad revenues than a policy meeting ever will.

    The game is up for the NDP. Sorry to say that so few Canadians care about your policies and ideas. Very few ever did. Perhaps NDPers can take some comfort that its really not their fault. So few Canadian’s care about any party’s policy or ideas anymore.

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    !o! says:

    I’m still annoyed that they didn’t elect Cullen.

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    Bob Thompson says:

    Anyone with any vision, ideological purity, or historical literacy would soon become a rageaholic sourpuss dealing with the unalloyed Marxist cliques that dominate much of the NDP. Case in point: Ed Broadbent (evidently under the psychic control of his self-identified “Marxist” girlfriend) somewhat viscously tried to scuttle Mulcair’s plans to modernize the party; “I want the party to remain a left-of-centre party … by remaining true to its core principles, not by becoming a Liberal party” Broadbent told the Star (note the NDP’s constitution states that “social, economic and political progress of Canada can be assured only by the application of democratic socialist principles” i.e. private property, free enterprise, is out folks).

    Layton made a deal with the devil by pandering to and absorbing Bloc votes. Could it be more dreary, this Quebec wing of the NDP, who would continue in their “Nègres Blancs d’Amérique” mentalite, public readings of the FLQ manifesto, etc. That fact that no one in English Canada gets Layton’s treason is proof how politically illiterate this country has become.

    I was actually feeling the vibe with Trudeau until that video surfaced reaffirming Quebec exceptionalism and that Alberta was the place Satan lived. And Reviving Islamic Spirit. Nothing like female genital mutilation and Sharia Law to shake one out of a nice personality cult high. Bummer.

    Could be blue sweater vests, chinchillas, smokestacks, gulags, and youth prisons etc. indefinitely. O Canada, our political stagnation is like a vast stinking, swamp of yesteryears rotting political movements.

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    pcase says:

    Mulcair can play ball.
    He has a committed and focussed caucus and has played very few cards. Yet.
    Underestimate him at your peril.
    Harper, et al aren’t.

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    william smith says:

    Warren please put up a link of Mulcair being angry at any time during the last two years so that we can see what you are talking about.

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      smelter rat says:

      Indeed. in fact I thought Mulcair was quite subdued when PVL waddled across the floor to attack Cullen.

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    Peter says:

    Mulcair’s gaggle of former bartenders and golf course employees

    That is hilarious. I’d like to be shocked and appalled, but I’m laughing too hard.

    This whole Clarity Act boondoggle confirms my longstanding suspicion that there is much less to the notion of the Libs and Dippers as natural allies united by progressive thinking in the face of Stephen the Hun than many Libs and Dippers seem to think. They are just in a much different ideological head space than most Libs. I can’t believe they’ve thrown you such a juicy bone, but if you check out Dipper sites, they all sound like they are profs in Anti-colonialism 101 seminars getting their knickers all twisted about how we must respect Quebec’s right of self-determination, yada, yada, and how we must try ever-harder to be scrupulously even-handed and fair about the destruction of Canada. If Mulcair had accompanied this flawed Bill with a resounding pledge to fight for Canada to his dying breath, he might have saved some popular respect, but both he and his troops seem to be on some kind of bloodless automatic pilot about the survival of their country. Somebody should tell them that the plan was to build their base on the BQ vote in Quebec, not the BQ vote in the ROC.

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      Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Sweeps are a wonderful thing. In my previous federal political incarnation (Progressive Conservative) we were astonished to see the gentleman who was a Purolator driver win in, if memory serves, Mirabel in 1984.

      If the next Liberal leader wins big nationally, we will undoubtedly see that again.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Political deflation tends to be non-partisan.

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    Jerk616 says:

    Mulcair’s gaggle of former bartenders and golf course employees.

    Typical Liberal elitism. lol. Not everyone has a famous, connected father to get ahead, even when the suit is filled with air.

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      The Doctor says:

      It’s not elitist to point out that many of those NDP candidates from Quebec in the last election were placeholders. It’s simply observing the truth. Get over yourself.

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        Jerk616 says:

        What’s not mentioned about that ‘gaggle’, is their relative age, politically speaking. When, typically, people in that demographic are too apathetic to bother even be, as you say with derision, ‘placeholders’. A bonus to everyone they were elected, as they are real young people and not just youngish looking. And those typical young people are facing pretty high levels of unemployment these days, and underemployment. And student debt. So yeah, elitist to comment on their backgrounds like that.

        Thanks for the advice, though, The Doctor. I’m now over myself. Also, right back at ya.

        Digging the Nasties song posted today btw.

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          The Doctor says:

          So the solution to youth unemployment and high student debt is for all young people to run for Parliament. Or something like that. Whatever, buddy.

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    Jerk616 says:

    As well, it’s pretty common knowledge that the Canadian media landscape is dominantly capital L Liberal. A Liberal could fart quietly and the CBC, The Star and the Globe would all give it a headline. Which sums up the ‘leadership’ race so far.

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      Peter says:

      As well, it’s pretty common knowledge that the Canadian media landscape is dominantly capital L Liberal

      So why did every major newspaper in Canada except the Star came out for Harper last time? Want to know what unites all Canadian politicians and parties? A love of hockey and a conviction the media is in the pockets of their adversaries.

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        Jerk616 says:

        Feel free to do an honest content analysis of the Canadian media, beyond the last election. Others have, and its out there. (L)iberal shills mostly.

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    Darren says:

    I’m not sure if he’s gone invisible, maybe politically “endothermic” perhaps.
    Up until they became the official opposition, the NDP had the luxury of saying some pretty dumb things and rarely being called on it. Had the NDP leader made the dutch disease comment 10 years ago when they were third party it would have gotten very little response, just a general shrug of the shoulders and a “that’s the NDP for ya”. Not any more, now that they’re the official opposition, stuff they say gets examined a lot closer.
    I think they’re starting to put more thought into what they say and that means taking a moment first. And even though I’m a right winger, I think that’s a good thing. All Canadians of all stripes benefit from well-thought policy development, regardless of which party develops it.
    Just because Mulcair is invisible now, doesn’t mean that’s always going to be the case, after all, isn’t a month in politics an eternity.

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    Thomas Gallezot says:

    You are not happy about our leader? Makes sense. We are very happy about him. He doesn’t rush to the camera each time the media whistle. He doesn’t makes a fool of himself in a ring. He is a smart economist with a plan. We’ll soon see who the Canadian will favour. But we’ll have to wait for next elections. Only the people decision matters. Not the media. Or the spin doctors.

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      Swervin' Merv says:

      Or we could pop Warren’s wishful thinking by citing the well respected Chantal Hébert:

      “Liberal strategists are now staking their party’s survival on the … dubious notion that the Quebecers who supported the NDP will see the error of their ways in 2015 and re-embrace their party.” (Jan. 8/13)

      “On Parliament Hill, the 2011 crop of young New Democrats ushered in by the Quebec orange wave has been settling in rather nicely.” (Dec. 21/12)

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Swervin’ Merv,

        Mulcair needs to give Quebec a real reason (rather than feeling good about Jack or electoral convenience, or put another way, running out of options) to vote for them next time. That one, being easier said than done. Hate to disagree with Chantal Hébert especially after what she said about Rae and First Nations, but IMHO NDP support is far from being an automatic lock at this point. Either the NDP proves me wrong or Liberals prove me right! Or, as I suspect, a little of both.

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          The Doctor says:

          The NDP has to fellate Quebec — at least that’s what the NDP braintrust has decided.

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    John Morse says:

    A well researched and clearly written article that is not a drive by smear deserves a suitable graphic. May I suggest an animated bird defecating on Mr. Mulcair’s head.

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    Tim says:

    The toughest job in Ottawa. Leader of the opposition. M Chretien describes the challenges eloquently in Straight From the Heart. It’s a bit early to write off Mulcair I think. We won’t find out how effective he’s been until the next election.

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