Too bad Tom. The slogan was “Defeat Harper with Thomas Mulcair”. For New Democrat supporters this is a bittersweet compromise. They couldn’t have their cake and eat it too. Mulcair’s speech conveyed this. His party was annihilated, but their Conservative nemeses were also removed from office. As Mulcair put it, Canada “turned the page on 10 years” of Harper and the Conservatives (who Mulcair was none too fond of). Mulcair made it clear that going forward they “will not let [Canadians] down”. In essence they did not let their ideological supporters down, they helped defeat Harper by not impeding the Liberal ability to do so.
A Liberal campaign that was in many ways just as progressive won the day with a more appealing leader. Except for the big (and apparently losing) stance on C-51, the NDP was promising balanced budgets and strict fiscal control, compared to a big public spending Liberal plan. Both were planning to raise taxes on the wealthy just in different ways: the NDP on corporations; the Liberals on the wealthiest 1%.
A victory for the Anything but Harper crowd seemed incompatible with an NDP defeat just months ago. Overconfident Dippers bought into Trudeau as “just not ready”. They underestimated his campaigning ability. Experience does not trump charisma in Canadian politics. Trudeau embodied change in a way that Mulcair never could. Mulcair acknowledged the “ambitious commitments” made by Trudeau’s Liberals.
Thomas Mulcair was no Jack Layton. He was no Tommy Douglas. We said as much all along. He was boring and that is hard to get behind. Maybe you can’t win with substance or smiles. Slogans and buzzwords are Trudeau’s strong suit. As John Oliver pointed out, Mulcair was terrible at that.
His team was marred by scandals. Alex Johnstone went from likely to win in the crucial riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas to a distant third. She was inexplicably kept on the NDP team.
Mulcair’s NDP never had an identity. He was not suited to be their leader. With his centrist views Mulcair would have a fantastic Liberal. With his inept campaigning he made a fantastic night for the Liberals.
Mulcair has had a fantastic political career. He was called the best opposition leader since Diefenbaker by Brian Mulroney. Mulcair was not a great leader. He was not the kind of leader to go up against the political juggernaught of Stephen Harper. Mulcair is a grandfather, in reality and in political strategy. Where Trudeau borrowed on an Obama-esque message of hope, Mulcair was an NDP version of Michael Ignatieff. A policy buff who was appealing as oatmeal. Bland beyond belief.