Tom Mulcair is in the midst of the fight of his political life this weekend in Edmonton, say two members of his party, and in order to emerge with his job intact, he’ll need to prove that he can learn from past mistakes.
Nathan Cullen and Peggy Nash joined the West Block’s Tom Clark for a panel discussion ahead of Mulcair’s big speech to the party faithful on Sunday, which will be followed by a confidence vote on his leadership. Mulcair is widely expected to step aside if he doesn’t clear 70 per cent support.
The NDP leader and his team made some mistakes during last year’s federal election, agreed Nash and Cullen — both of whom once ran for the leadership against Mulcair.
“Some of the strategic choices … were made that were not helpful in terms of not showing up to debates and (not) taking questions on the first day,” Cullen said.
“And I think Tom’s admitted to a bunch of those … It’s no longer good enough to say we’ll be the conscience of Parliament or we’re happy with third. It’s about attaining power and bringing our progressive values forward so that we can actually see them manifest, not just hoping for them.”
Sunday’s speech will need to showcase Mulcair’s passion and vision, Cullen added, “as opposed to what I think was a much more careful presentation in the last election, more risk-averse.”
Nash, who recently penned an article that didn’t call for Mulcair’s resignation outright, but wasn’t overtly supportive either, said she’ll be looking for a few things from her embattled leader. After suffering huge losses in the Toronto area and a complete wipe-out in the Atlantic provinces, she noted, people were clearly disappointed. Nash herself lost her seat.
“What I want to hear, and I think a lot of delegates want to hear, is Tom’s vision for the future, his belief in what the party needs to do to build, to win government, and why he’s the guy to take us there, how he sees the path forward. So I think people want to be inspired. They want to be motivated.”
Cullen also addressed some of the NDP’s platform promises, in particular the party’s pledge to balance the budget in its first year in power. Mulcair has since acknowledged that deficit spending may have been necessary.
“If the NDP had gone out and campaigned on a $10-billion deficit, some pundits would have lost their minds,” Cullen said. “The fact that the Liberals author the same thing, it presents different depending on who’s saying it.”
Watch the full interview with Nash and Cullen above.