Paul Wells in Conversation: Thomas Mulcair

The NDP leader on how he plans to convince Canadians the NDP is ready to govern

TORONTO, ON, September 1st, 2014 - NDP leader Tom Mulcair.

Photograph by Andrew Tolson

On Labour Day afternoon in a near-empty Rogers Building in Toronto, I interviewed Thomas Mulcair.

I’ve known the New Democratic Party leader for more than 20 years, never well. He was first elected to Quebec’s National Assembly in 1994. In Quebec City he was a scrapper, fond of sharing his elaborate theories of power and influence with reporters. In Ottawa he seemed, at first, a fish out of water, only the second New Democrat ever elected from Quebec. Then he became Jack Layton’s lieutenant in the astonishing 2011 breakthrough in Quebec, where the NDP elected 59 MPs.

Succeeding Layton, he shone briefly in the polls but has now spent more than a year watching Justin Trudeau’s Liberals win the public-opinion popularity contests. With barely a year before the 2015 election, Mulcair will have to fight his way back into the spotlight. He told Maclean’s that everything he does when the Commons returns, later this month, will seek to position the NDP for 2015. He’ll introduce new NDP policies for child care, for a national minimum wage, and other policies designed to suggest the NDP are ready to govern.

Here’s a preview of our conversation:

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