Rob Silver tries to read the tea leaves and ends up confused.
Traditional political orthodoxy says that during a U.S. presidential primary or a leadership race in the Canadian context, you spend the internal battle running toward your base and once the general election comes around, you tack toward the political centre.
Well, political orthodoxies don’t apply to Tom Mulcair. Or more accurately (and less snarky), he realizes that if he follows a traditional path in the NDP leadership race – appealing to traditional New Democrat power bases among organized labour, Prairie farmers and other left of centre party activists – he has no chance of winning. So he’s decided to instead run against the people who make up the NDP.
Greg Fingas concurs.
Of course, one could see the issue as simply a divergence of interests between Mulcair and the broader party if the effect of such a message was to help his cause in the leadership race. But the more important problem for Mulcair is that he looks to have opened up about the widest possible pathway for Brian Topp to claim the leadership.
It was one thing for Topp to have the advantage of being the establishment candidate, which to my mind only countered his disadvantage in not yet being an elected MP. But if Topp can position himself as both the choice of the NDP’s operational core assembled by Jack Layton and the defender of left-wing values within the leadership campaign (which a few weeks ago would have seemed highly implausible for a candidate known in large part for his association with Roy Romanow’s government), then it’s hard to see a path to victory for any other candidate that doesn’t involve bringing in tens upon tens of thousands of new members from outside the party.