Rumors of Thomas Mulcair’s Demise Have Been Greatly Understated

Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The great New Democrat succession competition is now two months old. The field is crowded. All the candidates have announced their intentions (Pat Martin’s pussyfooting aside) – so why is Thomas Mulcair’s campaign already dead in the water?

Since the member for Outremont took to the stage with 33 fellow MPs in Côte-des-Neiges last month, hardly hide nor hair has been heard from the man who was, at one time, ‘the chosen one.’

Mulcair has spent November crossing the country. Headlines of small, local papers were made. And he doesn’t appear to have any upcoming events scheduled. Ever.

But, as conventional wisdom tells us, Mulcair is in charge of Quebec.  New membership numbers show that La Belle Province has more than doubled its membership to over 5,500.

Can Mulcair even take his home province?

The idea that Mulcair has a lock on Quebec started getting chipped away after a number of high-profile endorsements for Brian Topp. Even Romeo Saganash, Peggy Nash and Niki Ashton got a piece of the sweet, sweet Quebec pie.

Despite having many more MPs, Mulcair admitted earlier this month to only selling 500. Could he be getting squeezed out by some of the high-profile Topp-ers like Françoise Boivin and Alexandre Boulerice?

Mulcair also seems to be running an organizer deficit.

Much hay was made when Raymond Guardia, former Mulcair campaign manager and head of the Quebec campaign team for this past election, joined team Topp to steer the ship. That was a pretty huge coup.

Guardia isn’t the only one. According to one source from the Quebec NDP, five of the 12 staffers who worked the Quebec office in the 2011 federal campaign are now on Topp’s team. Another five are forbidden from getting actively involved in the campaign. The other two? Undeclared.

That lack of Quebec organizers doesn’t bode well.

Maybe the only high-profile Mulcair organizer is Ian Gillespie, who is usually referred in the media as a “campaign strategist.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Gillespie coordinated the NDP’s direct mail campaign in Ottawa. Not exactly a big ‘get’ for Mulcair.

The endorsement game

We were assured before Mulcair’s entry into the foray that he would pull in at least half the 59-person NDP caucus in Quebec. He got 29, hardly the “vast majority” he had promised.

Topp, on the other hand, seems to be rolling out his Quebec endorsements a little slower. One source in the Topp campaign says there are several other Quebecois parliamentarians who will be coming out for the Laval-born union organizer in the coming weeks and months.

Brian Topp has also sat down with several Quebec labour unions. Bringing the groups, who have previously been Bloc Quebecois stalwarts, into the orange fold would be a real coup for Topp – and the party as a whole.

Topp’s Montreal team also boasts Ethan Cox and Craig Sauve, former organizers from the successful municipal party Projet Montreal. Richard Bergeron, leader of the city’s third-place party, recently had Topp to his house to talk about Montreal issues. The party wouldn’t endorse any candidate, says Joelle Simard, chief of staff to Bergeron, but the meeting was productive and Bergeron remarked that he was impressed by the quality of the candidates. Mulcair hasn’t asked for a meeting with Bergeron since the race began, Simard told me over the phone.

Who stands where?

Maybe a big unknown will be the financial situation of the candidates. While we don’t yet have financial information for October, we know that Topp racked up almost $12,000 from individual contributors in September. The two other candidates that announced in the first month did not receive any donations. Any campaign that doesn’t hit the $500,000 spending limit is probably not a serious contender.

And while we have yet to see a poll pitting all the declared candidates against each other, Mulciar’s pan-Canadian support doesn’t appear to be materializing. He’s picked up three endorsements from Ontario, and the support of the low-profile New Brunswick NDP.

So, at this point, we can only make educated guesswork. If you’re ThreeHundredEight.com, you devise a devilishly complex formula for determining who has the most political capital.

Me? I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em.

At the risk of sounding like an American pundit proclaiming the fate of one of the many ill-begotten Republican nominees: on Monday, November 21st, I’m declaring Thomas Mulcair’s campaign dead at the age of 6 weeks.

Tommy, we hardly knew ye.

Originally posted on OpenFile.


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Categories: NDP Leadership Race, Politics

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