NDP signals move to mushy middle

ABOVE: NDP Leader Tom Mulcair discusses the values of the NDP and why they seem to be shifting to the right.

OTTAWA – NDP leader Tom Mulcair is signalling he’s following the path of Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath moving his party to the centre for the next federal election.

In an interview about the NDP’s position on the political spectrum on The West Block with Tom Clark, Mulcair suggested he is taking notes from a controversial former British Prime Minister – The Labour Party’s Tony Blair.

“If you look at the history of some of the social democratic parties, if you look at the British labour under Tony Blair, he used to quip that it wasn’t a question of left and right it was a question of what worked and what didn’t,” said Mulcair.

Blair was a polarizing figure in the British labour movement in the 1990s and 2000s. He spent much of his time as prime minister moving the party toward the centre. By the end of his premiership in 2007 people joked he was liked more by the conservatives than his own party.

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Mulcair says that’s what Canadians are looking for.

“I think what Canadians want are people who are realists, who understand for example the importance of our extractive industries and the creation of jobs but they also want to have a government that’s actually going to enforce rules of sustainable development like polluter pay. We can do both.”

In referencing Blair, Mulcair clearly signalled a turn away from the party of Ed Broadbent and Tommy Douglas but said some things will stay the same.

“Our views on Canada’s role in the world are very similar to the traditional views of the NDP. We want a very open approach, we want to work for peace, we want to get Canada back on the world schedule,” said Mulcair. “There’s nothing I’d love more Tom, then to make my first gesture as [prime minister] to be to attend the conference of the parties on Kyoto in Paris in December of 2015.”

“Stephen Harper is fighting against the world and the planet. So we do have to start getting these things right.”

Pushed further by Clark on whether the colour of the NDP’s orange is changing, Mulcair reiterated a “small-l” liberal approach.

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“It’s a pragmatic approach that we’ve been taking, that’s the approach that I took in the leadership race.”

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