Friday, April 20, 2007

Leading the charge

After more than a month of unconfirmed discussion, the Gazette reports that Thomas Mulcair will indeed run for the NDP in the next federal election - and that Mulcair declined a pitch from the Cons in order to do so:
Jack Layton (will announce today) that former Quebec environment minister Thomas Mulcair has agreed to run as (the NDP's) star candidate in the province, The Gazette has learned.

"We are obviously very excited," said a source close to Layton...

If no general election is held this spring, the party would consider running Mulcair in a by-election in a riding like Outremont, which former Liberal transport minister Jean Lapierre vacated in late January, and where the NDP ran a respectable third in the 2006 election...

While Mulcair had been actively courted behind the scenes by both the NDP and the Conservatives, sources close to him said he chose the NDP because he felt it is best positioned to make a difference when it comes to the environment.

Those sources said the Tories were interested in the ex-minister because they believed he could help improve their image on the environment, but he turned them down once he realized they were more interested in having him toe their line than in adopting his positions...

As environment minister, Mulcair beefed up enforcement of Quebec's environmental laws and was determined that Quebec meet its targets under Kyoto - even if it meant taking on his federal counterparts.
It would have been a significant plus merely for Mulcair to run for the NDP. But his reasons for doing so should do all the more to bolster some themes which the NDP will presumably make central to their campaign in Quebec: that the Cons simply aren't interested in listening to what needs to be done on the environment, and the NDP is in the best position to offer an alternative.

Of course, there remains plenty that needs to be done for the NDP to win one or more Quebec seats. But with the polls (both current and speculative) showing plenty of opportunity for the party, Mulcair's addition to the slate can only help to turn some of the obvious potential into reality.

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