Five challenges for 2016: The New Democratic Party

As the NDP reels from electoral defeat to third-party status, here are the challenges they face in the new year

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks to reporters in the foyer on Parliament Hill, shortly after addressing his caucus, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/CP)

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speaks to reporters in the foyer on Parliament Hill, shortly after addressing his caucus, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/CP)

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.


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Five challenges for 2016: The New Democratic Party

  1. HE NEEDS TO GO!!!!!!!

    mulcairman, mulcairman, IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GO!!!!

    • The suggestion that Mulcair has ANYTHING in common with Harper is just plain silly. In terms of actual policy, minus the selfies and fluffy language, “Trudeauman” bears much closer resemblance.

      Tom did a poor job of selling NDP policies during the last campaign (although without any argument the NDP’s platform was ten times more progressive than the Liberal platform), and both he and his advisors made some mistakes; however, the NDP was also facing an uphill battle from the beginning.

      It took nearly two years for the media to pay Mulcair any mind (non-stories about Trudeau often got top-billing ahead of Mulcair actually doing his job throughout 2013 and 2014), the media understandably turned its critical gaze away from Trudeau during the spring of 2015 to scrutinise Mulcair after he became the new frontrunner (this was good for the NDP in a way, at first, but it also afforded Trudeau greater leeway during the campaign), even Jack Layton would have struggled to hold onto first place over the course of a nearly three month long campaign, and the niqab farce was not Mulcair’s fault in the slightest. If anything, it eroded the NDP’s dominance of Quebec, and ironically helped the Liberals (who had the same position) by allowing them to emerge as the only alternative.

      Am I 100% convinced that Mulcair should stay? No, more like 75% convinced, but I’m not willing to throw him under the bus either. The NDP was never as competitive under Jack Layton, and a lot of that was thanks to Mulcair. Mulcair is a strong leader, and strong leaders usually deserve more than just one chance.

      • The “Harperman” reference was just silly. Tom is the NDP’s leader because he was elected by the party membership, I campaigned for one of his opponents btw, and his policies mostly kept in line with Jack Layton.

        Speaking as a socialist, I found the “Harperman” song irritating. A bunch of baby-boomers, being unprofessional and singing a bad 60s style folk-tune hardly contributed towards the end of the Harper decade. The fact that public servants hated Harper was not exactly “news,” and no young people did not think that the song was “cool”.

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