How Tom Mulcair plans to oppose Trudeau's Liberals

How Tom Mulcair plans to oppose Trudeau’s Liberals

Tom Mulcair on climate change, Syrian refugees, and staying on as NDP leader

NDP leader Tom Mulcair poses for photos with supporters while campaigning Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in Surrey, B.C. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

NDP leader Tom Mulcair poses for photos with supporters while campaigning Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in Surrey, B.C. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

The plain, brutal truth for Tom Mulcair is that his NDP started the federal election campaign of 2015 leading in many polls and ended up, when the votes were counted on Oct. 19, in third place. As the year drew to a close, Mulcair spoke with Maclean’s Ottawa bureau chief John Geddes about that hard experience and the rebuilding effort ahead. A fuller version of the interview will be published in the weeks ahead, but here’s an excerpt of Mulcair talking about the challenges he faces when it comes to opposing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new government.

Q: I sense that it’s an awkward moment for your NDP. There’s a lot of goodwill surrounding the Trudeau government. There are early question marks, on issues like how quickly they are bringing refugees to Canada or whether their deficit promise is being broken. But there’s also this atmosphere of uplift and hopefulness, which I’m guessing you, on the progressive side of the spectrum, wouldn’t want to entirely lean against.

A: I think that’s very well said, but don’t forget: A change of tone has to be followed by a change of substance. For instance, on climate change, I was in Paris; I appreciated the change of tone. I did find it a little bit boastful to say “Canada is back,” equating the return of the Liberals with the return of Canada, but I did note there was a much more hopeful tone, much more helpful tone and I encourage that.

Last time the Liberals were in power they had one of the worst records in the world of greenhouse gas increases. When I saw Mr. Trudeau go to Paris I was very hopeful that that change of tone would translate into something. But then we started getting, “Give us a few months, we’re going to talk to the provinces.”

The only thing that will matter is in 2016 is, did Canada produce fewer greenhouse gases than we did in 2015? In 2017, will we produce fewer still again? We’ve seen nothing to lead Canadians to believe that. We’ll see what comes up after his 90 days. I’m hopeful, but I haven’t seen anything yet that gives me confidence that this is going to happen.

Your personal image is more wrapped up in the House than would be the case for most Canadian politicians, because you’re pretty effective in question period. But that was a style that you honed against Stephen Harper, who was a particular kind of adversary. Do you have any thoughts on how you might adjust your approach with Trudeau in the prime minister’s seat?

We are adjusting and we’re doing it by asking very specific questions. Mr. Trudeau stood beside Mayor Denis Coderre in Montreal at city hall, to use just one example, and he said, with no ifs, ands or buts, that he would be restoring home mail delivery.

That was a clear, rock-hard promise, and he’s starting to back away from it. All you have [to do is to] read the quote to him and then you ask him, “Did you say that?” I asked him that the other day, by the way—no rhetoric required in a question like that. Then when Mr. Trudeau started doing the back crawl, Canadians had all the information they needed.

There have been a lot of promises like that. You talk about the refugees. I’ll tell you straight up during the election campaign, before we made our commitment in the NDP to bringing in 10,000 before the end of the year, we talked to the top experts. We talked to the top academics. We looked at what the United Nations was asking of Canada. We talked to NGOs. They all said it’s extremely ambitious, but 10,000 is plausible between now and the end of the year.

The next day the Liberals held a press conference to attack us. What a bunch of chisellers. Ten thousand–we can do 25,000 by the end of the year! Barely a couple of days after the [Trudeau government’s] swearing-in they said, “Oh, by the way, 25,000 is totally unrealistic, maybe 10,000.”

Lo and behold, that’s exactly what we had said. That part can be a bit frustrating. But we have to get back to the good part which is we’re very happy that Canada is playing a role in receiving Syrian refugees, something that Stephen Harper had been abysmal at.

I know you’ve been asked about your position as NDP leader a number of times, but let me ask again. Firstly, are you absolutely determined to stay on as leader? Secondly, was there ever a moment in the days or weeks after the election that you wavered on that?

There are moments, when I’m talking sometimes to a defeated colleague, who I would still love to have standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me in the House of Commons. I feel that weight on my shoulders. I know I’m the only person responsible. I’m the party leader.

The short answer to your first question is, since the day of the election, despite my sadness at the result knowing that we came up short, you know what? We’re the New Democratic Party and in the end it’s up to the members. I continue to work hard and tirelessly across Canada.


How Tom Mulcair plans to oppose Trudeau’s Liberals

  1. Mulcair hold him accountable for every issue he brings up.Cracks are showing up in the Liberals policies.

    • “Cracks”? Don’t you mean “gaping fissures are showing up in the Liberals’ policies?

      The mainstream media always spun Harper’s actions or lack there of in the worst possible way. They’ve inverted so far, and are spinning the Trudeau’s governments failure after failure in the best possible light, even attempting to explain their policies, when they themselves can’t.

      But at some point the media will not even be able to save the Trudeau government from itself without losing credibility.

      • Thanks, I also like your comment as it does go further in explanation of what we are facing.

  2. “… we talked to the top experts. We talked to the top academics. We looked at what the United Nations was asking of Canada. We talked to NGOs. They all said it’s extremely ambitious, but 10,000 is plausible between now and the end of the year.”

    This sounds suspiciously like evidence based policy making on the part of the NDP. Trudeau and the LPC promised us this, and apparently tossed that promise out the window when it became inconvenient. Sigh.

    • The point that matters is that the number of asylum seekers had no bearing on the result of the election (strategic voting) … but it may next time.

    • Mulcair asked the U.N. what they were asking of Canada. Who, or what, is the U.N., some kind of expert? Mulcair is thinking like a global citizen–like someone who has already bought into the U.N.’s Agenda 21–their agenda for the 21st century.

      Mulcair should have been asking, “What is good for Canada”? He should have been thinking like a potential leader of a great nation, not a subservient puppet of the U.N. Who gives the U.N. their power, anyway? I can’ t see that the U.N. has been effective in anything they do–especially the hoax pertetrated by the IPCC on climate change.

      It will be difficult for Mulcair to oppose Trudeau’s Liberals since they have the same idealism and goals, just different methods to achieve them. Liberals tip-toe through the tulips, using consensus as the determining policies. Tiny Tim had his wedding on TV, and his honeymoon with Miss Vicky. It wasn’t long before divorce took over. Canadians will divorce the Liberals. How could they vote for NDP when they aren’t much different?

      In my opinion, Mulcair and the NDP need to distance themselves from the Liberals leftist position and set of beliefs. Only then can he oppose Trudeau, but where to find that acceptable territory that doesn’t encroach on PC turf. Mulcair can’t oppose Trudeau. Trudeau is too slick. Look at how the Liberal marketing machine out-manoeuvred the two other parties. The NDP need to re-invent themselves, just like the PC’s, first. Or maybe just sit back and let the Libs dismantle themselves, and then step up to the plate, offering principle and sincerety. But that’s leaving their future in the hands of the Libs. NDP needs to control their own destiny.

      Just my thoughts………..

      • They don’t have the same idealism or goals. The Liberal PR campaign makes them seem similar.

  3. I have to wonder why this article has to use the word “oppose” in it. Can we not try and work as a team in government? Would not the word accountable be sufficient. I am far from a liberal supporter and agree many promises will be broken, but lets at least wait and see and give praise where its do and ask for a reasonable explanation when they are not. The old saying you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar may work out with this new government. Lets at least try.

  4. Tom Mulcair and the new democrats are needed more than ever.

    The corporate media persists fostering Justin’s celebrity – and apparently has not interest in asking substantial questions about substantial issues.

    Justin may not only forget his promises on postal home delivery but also choose to ignore any serious study of a much-needed postal banking system.

    Justin continues to say he is studying the TPP when both President Obama and Japanese PM Abe said – after personal talks with Justin – that Justin supports the TPP. Justin might inform Parliament and the Canadian people of his hidden agenda.

    Justin is no clearer on Bill C-51 – a deeply worrying issue that many progressives were led to believe that Justin shared their concerns!

    But the media continues to do what it does best – focusing on the unsubstantial and inconsequential – and pour out articles and photo-ops of Justin using his wife and family for political purposes – shabby practice at best on behalf of both collaborators.

  5. Even with the national media running interference for them it is clear that the Liberals are stumbling badly out of the gate. The NDP stand a real chance in the next election if they keep their eye on the ball. The key is avoid the smug, preachy and arrogant tone that the Liberals have so far expressed. The repeated refrains that “Canada is back,” simply because the Liberals are back in power is an example.

    • Ha, ha. Your kidding arent you? The NDP has a real chance next election? The only reason people thought they had a chance last time was the fact that Layton got a lot of seats in the previous election as no other Quebecers running and made it to the opposition. After 4 years of uncontrolled deficits we will see what happens, and I certainly dont think it will be the NDP no matter how politically correct the country gets.

  6. So much back-peddling by Trudeau. It’s a trait of the Liberal Party. If this had been an NDP government doing this, the media would have been all over them. Interestingly, Macleans has been one of the less-biased media outlets.