Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen hit the nail on the head.
In at least a couple of interviews following Sunday’s decision by the federal NDP to oust leader Tom Mulcair, Cullen has stated one of the legacies of Jack Layton and the party’s electoral success in 2011 was that at least some in the party wanted more.
They wanted to be more than the social conscience of the party in the power. They wanted to govern the country. They wanted power.
Cullen said he was surprised at the party’s move to replace Mulcair as leader. He shouldn’t have been. A leader who loses half of the party’s seats simply has to go. For all his strengths, of which there are many, Mulcair was simply the wrong person for the job in 2015.
He didn’t seem like it at first, but he was.
With the benefit of perfect hindsight, Mulcair tried to be Stephen Harper with a social conscience. He and the party misread how badly the Canadian electorate wanted to distance themselves from Harper and anything that looked and/or sounded like Harper. When the electorate looked at the three main party leaders, they saw two men who were very similar in style and one who was completely different. The electorate went for the one who looked and sounded completely different than Harper.
The irony is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, while campaigning on “change” are keeping lot of what the Conservatives dreamed up. The Liberals say they aren’t happy with the Trans Pacific Partnership but have signed the controversial trade deal. They have yet do anything with Bill C-51, even though they said they would. Scrapping it would be easy, but they’re not going to do that. The Liberals have continued with the deal cooked up by the Conservatives to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. NDP elder statesman Stephen Lewis made the point at the NDP convention last weekend that Trudeau calls himself a feminist but continues to sell arms to one of the most misogynistic regimes in the world. Ouch.
There is no doubt that had Mulcair and the NDP won the election the new PM likely wouldn’t have been featured in Vogue, but it’s likely the TPP, Bill C-51, and the arms deal would all be a thing of the past.
Trudeau campaigned on change but, for better or for worse, Mulcair would have delivered more of it.
The country is still enamoured with Trudeau, who continues to be wildly popular. The test will be four years from now when the country goes back to the polls. Will the country again be in the mood for change?
If the country is looking a change in 2019, perhaps it will be looking for a prime minister who is the antithesis of Trudeau.
Mulcair’s legacy may be that he was the right leader, but at the wrong time.