NDP Debate Season: Complete With Bread Analogies!

Photo: Justin Ling

The 9-headed pack of social democratic do-gooders is set to take the stage this afternoon for tea, crumpets and debates about monetary policy and trade relationships.

Aside from the Macy’s Day Parade, this’ll be the most fun sunday afternoon all year.

So what should we be expecting from the candidates?

Thomas Mulcair

The anointed front-runner that never was, Mulcair is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his ass without looking like he’s showing off. Along with Dewar and Chisholm, Mulcair is one of the only senior parliamentarians on the stage. That means Mulcair is battle-ready from his time in Question Period.

Unfortunately for Mulcair, he’s kind of damned-if-he-does-damned-if-he-doesn’t. Considering his usually style of knives-out debate, if he goes full-blown and rips one or more of his opponents to shreds, he’ll be seen as going against the lovey-dovey spirit of the race. If he holds back and plays nice, he runs the risk of getting drowned out.

So unless his communications staff have him morphed into some passive-aggressive Brother-Bot 3000, he might be in trouble here.

Thomas Mulcair is the brown bread. He’s kind of the obvious choice, but he may end up bunching you in the face. (Okay, the analolgy isn’t perfect.)

Brian Topp

There’s a whole lot to gain, and not a lot to lose for Taxman Topp.

Because he’s one of the less familiar faces to the crowd, Topp has a chance to make a big impression on the un-molded clay that is the New Democratic masses. Short of a total meltdown or a Rick Perry moment, (Who would I raise taxes on? People making over 200k … capital gains … and … um … oh … oops.) Topp isn’t going to get hurt by a less-than-stellar performance.

But at the same time, if Topp doesn’t start projecting himself as real leadership material, he risks getting eclipsed by some of the up-start candidates But the Toppster has rolled out quite a bit of policy in the last few days, and he seems well poised to enter the debate and club some of the other candidates with a heavy platform.

<!– He's white bread. He's a bit of a risk, but he's nothing scary.

Peggy Nash

The littlest choo-choo that could. Once considered a long-shot, Nash is now surging into a spot where she’s an actual threat to the all-boys club at the head of the race.

At the same time, if she doesn’t kick butt in this debate, she may fail to capitalize on her momentum. One of her biggest problems, alleviated a bit by a few policy announcements in recent days, is that – from time to time – she’s a lot of talk, not a lot of substance. Voters are going to want to hear hard promises.

If she fails to throw around as much, if not more, of the meat and potatoes, she risks looking like an over-inflated candidate.

Peggy is a croissant. A little bit foreign, but not out of the realm of ‘bread.’ Nobody’s quite sure if there’s a filling inside

Niki Ashton

Ashton is going to have trouble today. She is certainly not the best public speaker on that stage tonight, and rumour has it that her french isn’t quite as good as some of the other candidates.

Considering that the last half of the debate will be french-only, she might flounder. Even if her french is good (it’s at least passable) if it’s not excellent, she may find herself left behind Ashton, it seems, is running her campaign on New Politics (read: ‘I don’t want to talk policy.’) This might be a good idea for her. Trying to play policy with the three front-runners might put her in a tough spot. Appealing to a bunch of vague buzz-words (diversity, destiny, ponies) could convince some people.

Reforming politics to make it more inclusive is certainly an admirable, lofty goal. If she’s jumping into the campaign to raise that issue, then she could do that very well tonight But she’s not going to ‘win’ the debate, as it were.  

Niki Ashton is a muffin. It looks really nice, but once you’ve gotten through the top of the muffin, you’re left with the stem. The stem doesn’t have much flavour.

Paul Dewar

Dewar is not going to make any waves tonight. Paul’s nature is not to make waves.

That being said, he’s a big policy wonk and he could play the cool-headed, smart-as-a-whip, nerdy guy in the corner. That’s not a bad thing.

His poor french will kill him in the second half, however.

He could be the ‘whole grain bread’ candidate. You know he’s good for you, but you’re not all that impressed.

Robert Chisholm.

Chisholm is a pretty skilled debater. He could definitely fulfill his message as the ‘leadership’ candidate.

If he squashes the other candidates with his projection of confidence, he could pick up some serious support. But he’ll need to seriously kick ass. He’ll need to ride in on a white steed, slay the moderator with a broadsword and whittle his podium into a toothpick.

Again, his poor french will get him killed in the second half. Short of hiding under his podium, his campaign will be beached on the rocks of francophonie.

Robert is pumpernickel bread. On the outside, maybe he looks a little frumpy and unappealing, but you may just find that he’ll create a damn good sammich.

Romeo Saganash

Romeo is a really unknown variable. He’s a great francophone speaker, but not a fantastic one. I know nothing about his abilities as an anglophone orator.

He definitely has leadership potential, and tonight will likely be his make-or-break moment.

Romeo is brioche. You’re not entirely sure what it is, and you might not like it.

Nathan Cullen

Cullen has set himself up for failure. He’s gone policy heavy, set himself up as a pro-Liberal centrist and has completely failed to set himself up as a leader (vs. His current status as a fringe candidate.)

Cullen is that bread with raisins in it. You wanted bread, but you got raisins instead.

Martin Singh


Just kidding.

Considering Singh’s platform is all about being a business-friendly entrepreneur, it’s possible he could resonate with some of left-leaning business types in the NDP (both of them.)

Singh is a homemade loaf you made in your breadmaker. You’re never quite sure how it’ll turn out.

Categories: NDP Leadership Race


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