The consensus list of prospective candidates in this year's federal NDP leadership race seems to be set, with Peter Julian and Charlie Angus having already declared their intention to run, and Guy Caron, Niki Ashton and Jagmeet Singh looking likely to do so as well. And with the leadership campaign now starting in earnest, I'll be starting to comment regularly on how it develops.
For now, though, I'll offer a few thoughts on what's most noticeably absent from the slate of candidates so far.
As part of my analysis of the 2012 campaign, I started off by discussing the issues and voter pools the NDP figured to need to target. And as I'll discuss in future posts, the five apparent candidates largely cover the field on both fronts (though there may be room for more duplication than we're seeing so far).
But there are a couple of areas where there may be room for additional candidates to fill in gaps in the campaign as it's shaping up.
Geographically, the most noteworthy omission in the existing pool (assuming all of the above candidates join the race) is the lack of a contestant with strong links to Atlantic Canada. While Caron has handled critic responsibilities for the region since the 2015 election, it's uncertain how much of a regional profile and base of support he'd be able to carry into the leadership campaign.
The absence of an obvious magnet for Atlantic support was somewhat of a factor in 2012 as well, particularly after Robert Chisholm withdrew from the race. But with governing Liberals letting their masks slide both at the provincial and federal levels across the Atlantic provinces, we'd ideally see somebody step forward to build regional strength both during the leadership campaign and beyond.
The other obvious omission from the current slate of candidates is a substantial amount of experience in government.
The NDP's two previous leaders had substantial governing experience. And they in turn offered examples as to how that background can be a mixed blessing: Jack Layton made effective use of his profile and experience from Toronto's City Council (particularly in negotiating with other parties within minority Parliaments), while Thomas Mulcair demonstrated his mastery of the legislative chamber but was hurt by parts of his governing record during the 2015 campaign.
Now, the above shouldn't be taken as the start of a Draft Sterling Belliveau campaign: there are plenty of opportunities for the NDP to build in advance of the next federal election, both through public outreach and candidate recruitment. But it does offer some indication as to where there's room for additional candidates to step forward.