Thomas Mulcair styles himself a fighter -

Thomas Mulcair styles himself a fighter

The NDP leader does not want to be roadkill


Sports analogies in politics are fraught with peril. Heading into the NDP’s summer caucus meeting, Thomas Mulcair went with boxing to describe the campaign for 2015.

“This is a 15-round match that we are preparing for. It’s not a three-round fight,” Mr. Mulcair said.

The 15-round fight actually hasn’t been common since the 1980s. After the death of Duk Koo Kim, a sport that depends entirely on doing harm to another man’s body decided that having two men punch each other for more than 12 intervals of three minutes was too much.

Possibly Mr. Mulcair is not much of a boxing fan and he didn’t intend to invoke the parameters of old school brawling, but I’ll use this as a convenient segue to one of the interesting parts of Mr. Mulcair’s public image. His opponents like to mock him as “Angry Tom,” but here he is on himself in an interview last week with the Star.

“We’ve been standing up to Stephen Harper and offering him an opposition he has never had before. Without putting too fine a point on it, I’m no Stéphane Dion or Michael Ignatieff and people know that. So does Stephen Harper. He’s been getting the fight of his life in the House,” he said.

He made a similar assessment in his interview with the Huffington Post.

“I don’t shy away from a good tough debate, at all. It’s always been part and parcel of my understanding of what we have to do in politics, because otherwise you end up like Stéphane Dion or Michael Ignatieff. You are just going to be roadkill.”

He predicts an “epic battle” in 2015. And in the Globe’s story, an NDP strategist suggests “tough” as one of the words voters would associate with Mr. Mulcair.

The risk might be that voters will hear Mr. Mulcair as Andrew Coyne does.

There is an off-key quality to his performance — a tinniness of tone, a boastful insecurity, a sense of tightly wound resentment — of a kind the public is very good at detecting. 

So, perhaps like Mr. Harper before him, Mr. Mulcair has to figure out how to convey himself. So long as this toughness reinforces his team’s preferred adjectives—”Leadership” and “Experience”—he might be fine. When the toughness seems to undermine those adjectives, less so. But this does leave non-Conservative voters with a distinct choice of personalities between Mr. Mulcair and the sweetness and light of Mr. Trudeau.


Thomas Mulcair styles himself a fighter

  1. as far as im concerned, if you have to break the wife out to try and improve your numbers, well i think your number may be up. you cant force people to like you and toms personality seems to be like daddy harpers, its not genuine. if you have to remake your personality, than your not being genuine(what part of that is it people don’t get), it means your pandering. personality is not something you develop, its supposed to be natural. and i have to say, Justin Trudeau is far ahead of harper and mulcair, when it comes to personality. you may not like J Ts answers to questions, but at least he takes more than 4 questions. mulcair and harper are not as affable as Trudeau. im sure their lots who disagree with me.

    • You can ask Trust Fund Trudeau all the questions about pot use you want, and he’ll answer. Ask him about any kind of meaningful policy and he’ll give you absolutely nothing.

      • what party is stupid enough to release policy when the cons are having a convention next month and a throne speech after that. what planet do you live on rick omen ? all the dippers policies were stolen from the libs in the last 50 years. the dippers were a fringe group 50 years ago and the cons were also just a fringe group before peter McKay sold out the P Cs. look at harper. everyday he(harper) wakes up, he asks himself, should I be a P C today or should I be a reform today ?

      • Yup, I remember Harper announcing the Conservatives platform years…err…one week before the 2008 election, after the debates and after more than one million people had already voted.

        To their credit, they improved on their timing all the way to two weeks before the 2011 election – whole days before advance voting started!
        But I understand, NotRick. You have much higher expections of the Liberals than the Conservatives, and I can’t fault you for that.

        • Oh, lenny, you can’t expect a platform for an illegal election. Come on!

  2. ‘The best guess at where we’re going is where we’re at.’

    Is there something of the Newfoundland sage in Andrew? Brilliant column. Coyne excels at these kinds of thumbnail back of the napkin character sketches.
    It also occurs that JT has been quite a bit quieter on some of the issues that Mulcair has been hottest about. Who knows if it is by design, but the result has been to leave Tom out there as the lone Cassandra crying woe and disaster. Clearly he thinks its making him look like a pugilst in it for the long haul; others may think he needs to say what he intends to do himself from time to time. And as Coyne says he may be defining himself in ways he didn’t intend.

  3. Mulcair has already been suckered into fighting a two-front war again, so his being ‘roadkill’ is likely.