Press-Republican

Black

March 23, 2012

Opposition battles for the center

If Thomas Mulcair is elected leader of the New Democratic Party this weekend, as most observers say he will be, it will create one of the more ironic situations in modern Canadian politics — this in a country created by a seemingly contradictory Liberal-Conservative Party.

Mulcair, 57, is a former Liberal member of Quebec's National Assembly. He served as environment minister in Premier Jean Charest's administration from 2003 until he resigned in 2007 over a policy dispute. Shortly afterwards, he jumped to the left-leaning federal New Democratic Party and promptly won a by-election in a traditional Liberal riding in central Montreal.

If Mulcair becomes New Democratic Party chief and leader of the Official Opposition, replacing Jack Layton, who died of cancer suddenly last summer, he will face what you might call his political mirror image in the person of current Liberal leader Bob Rae.

As we've mentioned in this space before, Rae was once a New Democratic wunderkind on the federal level, so much so he was wooed to lead the party in Ontario. In 1990, to his great surprise victory, he beat the Liberal government of the day and helmed the first (and still only) New Democratic government in Canada's most powerful province.

There are several significant implications to these two high-level political conversions. The first is that a goodly number of the rank-and-file members of both the federal New Democratic Party and Liberals are not comfortable to see a former political enemy take over the party they cherish.

The second is that both leaders have the capacity to shift their new chosen party in a different direction, in Mulcair's case toward the center of the political spectrum. Mulcair, on the contrary, says he's not dragging the party to the center; the center is coming to him.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Black
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo