Tom Mulcair says he is committed to leading the NDP despite a devastating election outcome that punted his party back to third party status.
Here are five things challenges he faces in the new year.
1. Prepare for leadership review. Mulcair will face an uncomfortable leadership review at the party’s convention in Edmonton in April. Questions are likely to emerge about how much of the party’s showing in October was a direcly result of Mulcair’s leadership. The NDP’s constitution indicates a leadership race must ensue within one year if 50 per cent plus one delegate supports it.
2. Consider his future. While Mulcair has maintained he is in for the long haul as commander-in-chief, he will be 65 the next time Canadians head to the polls. The NDP leader will need to mull what is best for him and his party and if he is the best fit to take on Justin Trudeau in 2019.
3. Work with his existing team. There are now only 44 NDP MPs, which means Mulcair is working with a reduced roster. The New Democrats are keen to hold the Liberals to account on issues including electoral reform and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Mulcair’s likely to draw on experienced team players, such as environment critic Nathan Cullen, as he pushes forward with his party’s agenda.
4. Perform well inside and outside the Commons. Mulcair was praised for his performance in the House in the throes of the Mike Duffy affair. The NDP leader used a prosecutorial approach to go after Stephen Harper in question period, successfully raising eyebrows about what was happening inside the Prime Minister’s Office. Now Harper is gone, Mulcair has a new new prime minister’s feet to hold to the fire while also ensuring he connects with voters outside the Commons.
5. Sell NDP policies. Observers say the NDP struggled to sell its brand during the last election campaign. The party is now calling itself the “progressive opposition” in a bid to distinguish itself and a challenge will be to find a way to show Canadians how the New Democrats differ from the governing Liberals.