Friday, April 12, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday April 12, 2013

Justin Trudeau, Tom Mulcair dominate a pivotal weekend

Tom Mulcair and his New Democrats have gone from honeymoon to political crossroads in one short year.

This weekend, two parallel events collide on the evolving Canadian political landscape, signalling the latest sprint to the middle in this country, a three-way mash up that includes the governing Conservatives.

First, Mulcair presides over the party’s initial policy convention under his leadership in Montreal, while down the road in the nation’s capital, Liberals are expected to confirm the official passage of Justin Trudeau from party phenom to party leader.

Mulcair was chosen leader of the New Democrats just over a year ago because he was the man party members believed could take the Jack Layton legacy and move the party from decades of moral victories and clear consciences to a party ready to form a government.

He must — and will — reinforce that image in Montreal, keeping the party’s more traditional wing muted, softly and subtly loosening the NDP umbilical cord to organized labour and keeping the Conservative “fear factor” at bay by embracing that invaluable mushy middle where most Canadians hang their hats.

The party will keep the policy resolutions to be debated vanilla-flavoured, avoiding the unneeded spice by talking about winding down the Alberta oil sands, or nationalizing U.S. Steel or slapping sanctions on Israel.

Trudeau has taken his Liberals off life-support and Mulcair’s biggest problem right now is that Canadians apparently are projecting their own hopes and vision on the, so far, empty canvas of the new leader. (Source; Toronto Star)