09.10.2014 10:07 AM

Wither thou goest, Dippers, in your orange car at night? (Updated)

Reporter Andy Radia asked me what I thought about Tom Mulcair, the (aptly named) NDP retreat, blah blah blah.  My response, for your edification:

“Mulcair’s big problem can be summed up in three words: Mulcair isn’t Layton.

For good or bad, who your leader is plays a big, big role in political decision-making. And folks just don’t like Tom as much as they liked Jack.

I’ve just spent several months working with some impressive New Democrats on a municipal campaign. (It was an interesting, but not entirely gratifying, experiment.) A lot of them are good, smart people. But they all know that the Liberal brand is experiencing a comeback across Canada – in BC, in Nova Scotia, in Ontario, in Quebec. If they had something to stop the Liberal resurgence, they would have used it by now. They haven’t.

The New Democrats aren’t going to fall back to their traditional support levels – I think there’s an excellent chance they will drop even below that.

Canadians have been on the right side of the road for about a decade. They’re now moving back to the middle, not the left. And I don’t think Mulcair or Harper have any ideas about how to stop it.”

UPDATE: And Andy’s story is here.


  1. debs says:

    I like Tom more then Jack. I found Jack rolled over alot and worked with Harper when he should have used his power to bring him down.
    Nope dont agree with the stance, hope the rest of Canada sees that Mulcair fights and has been from the get go. Tired of the flowery political prose that says nothing, lets have a real person, with real feistyness fight the bullshit that politics is.

    • doconnor says:

      The NDP only supported the Conservative once during the minority and got hundreds of millions in EI improvements. I don’t see how that could be considered “alot”. Even then I wasn’t comfortable with that after the prorogation. The Liberals supported the Conservatives for long periods of time in exchange for next to nothing.

      During the leadership campaign Mulcair said he wouldn’t joined a coalition with the Liberals. Of course, I don’t believe him, but it does suggest he might be more inclined to support a Conservative minority then Layton.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      I agree with debs.

      Never would have voted for Layton but will consider Tom. I am sure a minority view in Ontario, but only debates and an election will tell if that is the view in the rest of Canada.

      IMO, the reason for Layton’s success was his great performance in the French debate. He came across as one of their own.

      NOTE: Layton only won 5 more Ontario seats in 2011 than in 2008. And it was only 22 of 106 Ontario seats. And he won less seats in BC and the Maritimes in 2011 than in 2008.

      • Michael Bluth says:

        The 2011 results for the NDP outside Quebec, were good but not great. They took 44 seats outside Quebec compared to 43 in 1988 (with a smaller house meaning they did better in 1988) and 36 non-Quebec seats in 2008.

        Quebec will be a free for all. There could be a number of three way fights. LPC-NDP-BQ in some ridings and LPC-NDP-CPC in others.

        CPC and BQ may each pick up a couple of seats, unless the BQ disintegrates altogether. CPC’s tiny base is likely solid.

        The NDP will undoubtedly launch attack ads on JT. Could Tom have his Daisy moment in the province?

      • Bobby says:

        I agree with DebS too. Mulcair is also way WAY better in Question Period than Trudeau has been so far. I don’t expect that to change.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    In Quebec, playing the nationalist card wins you votes — and seats. Read advantage Mulcair. Justin has a problem being a Quebec nationalist. Just think back to that clip.

    People in Quebec ridings will have a clear choice: either continue to go with the nationalist rhythm or put their fate in someone new and fresh with a positive outlook on life and politics.

    To ask the question is to answer it. Which one would you choose?

    • Ron says:

      There are no guarantees for the NDP in Quebec. They got those seats because they weren’t the Bloc.

      It’s not a sure thing, they didn’t win those seats in perpetuity.

      The voters in Quebec always seem to be ahead of the curve.

  3. doconnor says:

    As scenario similar to 1992 when the NDP suffered a large loss of support because people where desperate to get rid of the Conservatives (and a new leader who isn’t as popular as the old one) is plausible. It may not be as bad as that because in Quebec a lot more voters are aware they don’t have to worry about the Conservatives in their ridings and are free to vote for what they believe in.

    • Reality.Bites says:

      And then the BQ ended up as Official Opposition.

      Both Chrétien and Harper showed you can win a majority government without most of the Quebec seats. 19 for the Liberals in 1993, 5 for Harper in 2011.

      Trudeau will certainly take more than 19 seats in Quebec, and the NDP will take whatever he doesn’t win. Outside Quebec things will be grim indeed for the NDP.

  4. Ted Heighington says:

    Agree. Mulcair isn’t Jack. Andrea isn’t Jack. Olivia isn’t Jack. In fact, the entire Orange Crush surge everywhere or anywhere was only about Jack. Nothing else. No one else. The entire country is returning to centre because there is no longer a magnet, drumbeater or pied piper on the left. Parties are basically the same once they assume power. Their leaders are not. Jack is gone. So gone now is the color orange from our political spectrum.

    • Reality.Bites says:

      It was about more than Jack – it was also about two successive Liberal leaders who didn’t resonate with voters.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      While I have to agree with you that Andrea is not Jack … Andrea won just 1 less Ontario seat (21) in 2014 than he did in 2011 (22).

      The NDP vote in Ontario in 2011 was 25.6% and in 2014 was 23.75%. Jack’s Ontario numbers are very similar to Andrea’s.

  5. davie says:

    On the preferential ballot for leadership, I had Blaikie first, and Layton last. I figured the last thing I want is yet another party leader from To or Montreal. But then, federally and provincially, people I have supported for leadership have never won. (I was happy Cullen did not run for BC NDP leader ship, because I would have supported him.)
    I always thought many of the Bloc MP’s said and did things which were very NDP-ish, and that their voters could easily support NDP. I am far from Quebec, but I have a sense that the Bloc is not regaining much of its vote, so I think NDP might do okay again in Quebec.
    In the rest of Canada, I am afraid the old Trudeau mania thing is at work(I really distrusted that stuff then, and I still do), and the Libs will do very well in the coming election.
    Could give NDP a chance to rethink what it stands for. If all 3 main parties are working for the middle class, then who is going to represent the rest of us?

    Man, if only the NDP could get a balance of power somehow, and then Cullen lobby his fellow pinkos to get that partial proportional into being…

    • sezme says:

      Agreed. I still think it’s entirely possible for the NDP to do okay because as you said, they supplanted most of the social-democratic BQ support in Quebec, and that looks to continue. And they’ll do reasonably well elsewhere as long as soft NDP voters are pretty sure the Conservatives won’t win again. This is all contingent of course on the bottom dropping out of the Conservative support like in ‘93, which might just happen. Or it might not. (Yes, the NDP did poorly in ’93, but Audrey McLaughlin was a much weaker leader than Mulcair is.)

  6. Jackal says:

    Layton won the leadership of the NDP in 2003 and didn’t become opposition leader until 2011. For most of that time he was dismissed as “phony” and sounding like a “used car salesman”. Nobody predicted his 2011 success.

    I have no idea how Mulcair will do in 2015 but it is the height of irony that the same people who used to dismiss Jack Layton are now declaring that the NDP is doomed without him.

    • Warren says:

      I always liked him. He bought my books!

    • Dan F says:

      I think part of the reason he started connecting with voters in 2011 was that he knew he had nothing to lose, and that it was his last kick at the can. He may have even known he was sick and wasn’t long for this world. That kind of knowledge changes a person in ways we might not consciously perceive, but subconsciously we all picked up on it. He was suddenly a genuine person, smiling all the time, warm, relaxed. That may have been what made the difference (we’ll never know for sure). It’s also an important lesson for politicians…

  7. Skinny Dipper says:

    Tom Mulcair is no Jack. However, I didn’t want to support a clone for leader. I wanted someone for leader who was unique and had new ideas. I think Mr. Mulcair will shine during the next federal election campaign.

  8. BUGSY says:

    The NDP are not very popular in most provinces in BC. It will take more then Quebec to become PM. I personally find Mulcair a near carbon copy of Harper. And apparently I am not the only one.

  9. Irene lussier says:

    The NDP are not very popular in most provinces in BC. Mulcair will need more then Quebec to become PM. I personally find Mulcair a near carbon copy of Harper. And apparently I am not the only one.

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