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New Democrats endorse new party leader
Okanagan-Shuswap New Democrats are rallying behind the party’s new national leader.
Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair replaces the late Jack Layton as the leader of the country’s official opposition. He won Saturday’s leadership convention, beating strategist Brian Topp and five other candidates.
“He’s going to be a great leader. With the support of the new members in Quebec and Quebec supporting a federalist party, it’s a great thing,” said Nick Hodge, Okanagan-Shuswap NDP riding president.
Hodge initially supported Niki Ashton’s leadership bid, but then moved to Nathan Cullen through preferential balloting Saturday. Once it was down to Mulcair and Topp, Hodge voted for Mulcair.
“It’s important that the leader of the opposition be in Parliament Monday. I didn’t want to wait six months for a byelection,” said Hodge of Topp not having a seat in the House of Commons.
Mark Olsen, provincial Vernon-Monashee NDP candidate, supported Mulcair right from the start.
“He’s the right guy to take us to the next level,” said Olsen of the NDP trying to form the federal government in 2015.
“He’s well spoke and bilingual in both official languages, which is important. He also strikes me as someone who stands up for what he believes in. He will hold (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper’s feet to the fire.”
Former Okanagan-Shuswap candidate Nikki Inouye backed Peggy Nash and Topp, and she is urging Mulcair to continue with what she considers was Layton’s positive message.
“He has charisma and speaks very well, a good contender to take on Harper,” she said of Mulcair.
“I just hope he sticks to Tommy Douglas’s plan and doesn’t try to move our party to the centre! Positive thinking is what got the orange wave surge and the popular vote. Jack Layton’s message will prevail.”
Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap’s Conservative MP, is waiting to see if Mulcair changes the dynamic in the House of Commons.
“He’s got a job to keep us accountable and I appreciate that,” said Mayes.
“I hope the opposition will keep to the issues of governing and not the mudslinging we’ve seen.”
Mayes says the Conservatives will certainly try and make Canadians aware of the difference between them and the NDP but he isn’t aware of any plans for negative advertising against Mulcair.
Mayes also points out the opposition parties have also been known to pursue negative campaigns against the government.
“They always say, ‘We have to get rid of this Harper.’ They can be cruel. It’s important to get your message across but in a civil manner.”