What does Thomas Mulcair want to do with the NDP?

Watching yesterday’s debate, I said it was the most interesting question going. Rob Silver tries to parse what Mr. Mulcair had to say for himself.

Modern language, modern approach. I have no idea what that actually means, but I can guess. In part, it is easiest to define what he is proposing by contrasting it with his main opponents. Peggy Nash and Brian Topp have been carrying a message through this campaign that you can boil down to “the NDP doesn’t need to change, what we’ve been doing is working, we have passed the Liberals, our vote total keeps going up and if we keep doing the same thing, we will win.” They would stay true to NDP orthodoxy as opposed to moving to the centre; they embrace the NDP’s relationship with organized labour as opposed to downplaying it; they celebrate the party’s history at every opportunity, etc.

Mulcair rejects this approach categorically. He put it plainly on Sunday: “We did get 4.5 million votes but we are still far from being able to form a government. The only way we are going to be able to do that is to go beyond our traditional base, refresh our way of approaching these issues. We’re not going to defeat Stephen Harper with a slogan.” Putting aside the fact that “modernize our language, modernize our approach” is little more than a slogan, this strikes me as a pretty significant mandate for change if he is successful. He wants to make the NDP into a party of the centre, not the left. That would be a big change in Canadian politics with potentially far-reaching implications.