Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Thomas Mulcair won

I don't know if any of you care, or even know about it, but the NDP star candidate won the Outremont riding here in Montreal, which had been a liberal "stronghold". Mulcair was the provincial Liberal minister of the Environment here in Quebec under Charest before they had a falling out. I had a minor encounter with him on the radio during that time, which made me very suspicious of him. However, his quitting the provincial Liberals, though probably politically very pragmatic did suggest to me that he might have some core values. I also spoke with one of my colleagues at work, who knows politics and the environment extremely well and he said that often ministers of the environment come out "converti" to the cause.

So even though I tend to vote green, I was leaning towards Mulcair. I used to like Jack Layton when he just spoke intelligently instead of constantly trying to market his way into our hearts and the NPD does actually seem to stand for things from time to time. I applauded them forcing the transportation money into the federal budget. And they seem to be the only federal party that is actually willing to publicly criticize the cons.

It also helped that the NDP called my house twice, each time taking the time to listen to my positon and my doubts about Mulcair. Both were francophones (though the first call was in english) and seemed well-informed and flexible. We just had the kind of interesting political conversation you might have over lunch. There was little pushiness. The second guy said that because of the plastic bag incident, he would see if he could get Mulcair himself to call me. Which he did. Twice, leaving me a number to call him back. Unfortunately, this happened around one of my busiest periods of the year and I really didn't have time to call him back. I was disappointed, because I wanted to get a sense if he was just playing the game or actually had some environmental beliefs.

I hadn't decided who to vote for right up to the moment where I was standing behind that cardboard screen with the piece of paper in front of me (how pleasant it is to vote in Canada; such a lack of bullshit). One thing that threw me was the presence of the a Neo-Rhino candidate. It doesn't get much more Canadian than the Rhino party. Unfortunately, I hadn't read up enough on their platform, but I was tempted. In the end, I decided that since it was an interim election, I'd give Mulcair a chance. Maybe he'll stir up some shit in the Parliament.

My vote is certainly not the reason Mulcair won. What I found really interesting is that during this time, I did not see a single sign or poster up for the Liberal candidate. Mulcair was all over town, big placards of him hanging with Jack Layton. The Bloc were there as well. I also got nothing in my mailbox, no phone calls. The Liberals were effectively silent in my neighbourhood. I don't support all that waste of paper but just speaking strategically, you have to get your name and face out there.

I spoke with another person at work, also pretty well informed and he told me that the Liberal party has no money in Quebec. According to him, that's the whole reason for the sponsorship scandal in the first place. Their financial base is gone and they don't have the manpower or resources they used to have. This made me think immediately that without the base, how can they raise more money? Death spiral, anyone?

Anyways, I'm going to be keeping an eye on Mulcair. I hope he comes in swinging. If there is some cheesiness there, I'll forgive it if he's actually aggressively attacking the cons and talking about issues that matter, without equivocating.

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