It’s often said that the prime minister has the toughest job in the country.
May we suggest that perhaps newly-elected leader of the opposition Thomas Mulcair now has the toughest job in the country. For one thing, he has to go toe-to-toe with probably one of the toughest prime ministers we’ve ever had. However, for Mulcair, who likes to use pugilist analogies, that probably won’t be the toughest part of his job.
Firstly, he has to fill the shoes of the late Jack Layton, who took the party from third party status to Official Opposition. Layton’s message and style in the last election reverberated with lots of Canadians and that contributed to his and the NDP’s success at the polls. However, the NDP’s electoral success also had a lot to do with the fact Canadians didn’t want to vote Liberal or Conservative (and in Quebec not wanting to vote Bloc), so they moved to the NDP.
The first challenge for Mulcair is to not be Layton, yet retain and build on the mystique that Layton created. Not an easy task.
Mulcair references what Tony Blair did with the Labour Party in England as an example of what he’d like to do here. In other words, he wants to move it to the centre. The biggest challenge there, just as it is for a Conservative party leader who wants to move that party to the middle, is staving off the internal knives.
And, on top of that, the party in Canada that has traditionally held the middle ground, the Liberals, aren’t going to go down without a fight. It’s one thing that the Liberals have understood better than the NDP or the Conservatives … elections in Canada are won in the middle. Canadians, by and large, gravitate to the middle of the political spectrum.
It’s why the Liberals have had electoral success. When the Conservatives moved there, they had success. However, it’s not an easy task … for any leader.
If Mulcair wants to move to 24 Sussex Drive, which he undoubtedly does, he has to lay claim to the middle of the political spectrum.
To do that he has to first convince his party that’s where they should go, keep his rookies in line, stave off the Liberals who will re-surface with a new (ish) leader, and the Conservatives who, by the time next election rolls around will have softened the right wing ideology it is now pushing and be rolling out a more social agenda.
Mulcair definitely has a tough job ahead of him and the Canadian electorate will ultimately decide whether he succeeds.
– Prince George Free Press