The NDP's very own sexy socialist librarian hedges her bets:
Niki Ashton, holding a news conference in Ottawa about the employment challenges facing young Canadians, was asked repeatedly if she endorsed [Thomas] Mulcair as leader, but refused to give a straight answer.
"This is not about a person or a personality," she said. "Those processes are in place and will take their course. It is about ideas and I'm proud to be putting forward an idea or call to action that is critical."
Ashton ran against Mulcair in the leadership contest on March 24, 2012.
Her news conference comes as 37 Quebec-based activists, riding association presidents, organizers and former MPs issued an open letter in Le Devoir newspaper calling for "renewal" in the party.
So far a very Canadian coup. Lots of superficial politeness masking a deep seated passive aggressiveness that will - eventually - explode into blatant rudeness. This being Canada we don't actually assassinate our leaders, D'Arcy McGee being the famous exception. Reformed Irish terrorists notwithstanding we prefer gentle shoves out the door. Still the spectacle of leadership fights can be deeply unsettling. John Diefenbaker wandering forlorn through Maple Leaf Gardens in 1967 with Dalton Camp's knife wounds still bleeding. Joe Clark gamely trying to explain why he was perfectly comfortable serving in Brian Mulroney's cabinet. Paul Martin learning he'd been turfed as Minister of Finance while listening to the CBC.
Tom Mulcair's essential problem is that he is leading the wrong political party. He's a Liberal playing at being a Dipper. The socialist dead-enders in the NDP caucus get this instinctively. In their deepest and dark hearts they would be delighted to see his decapitated head paraded on a pike through the ganja shops of Vancouver. They were never terribly comfortable even with Jack Layton, who was just a touch too populist for their taste.
The NDP attracts a particular sort of member, a type of perpetually embittered idealist. To such political animals a whiff of electoral success is a suggestion of treason. Having spent eight decades railing against an amorphously defined thing they call capitalism, the NDP is the natural party of protest. On the rare occasions on which they have stumbled into power the consequences have been disastrous, their bumbling equally attributable to bad ideas and gross unprofessionalism. British Columbia in the 1970s. Ontario in the 1990s. Contemporary Alberta. Where the Orange Wave hits it leaves little standing in its aftermath, including the NDP itself which is often decimated after its brief taste of government.
When failure happens blame must be apportioned. The human mind seems incapable of accepting the vagaries of luck alone, instead it must find explanations. Grand theories being too intellectually demanding the blame game quickly becomes personal. In the grand sweep of Dipper History 2015 was actually a pretty good. David Lewis would have killed for 44 seats and 20% of the vote. Rather than seeing 2011 as one hell of a fluke - a rare combination of a strong NDP leader and a very weak Liberal leader - the party must interpret their "defeat" in 2015 as the fault of some devilish force. The devil they have alighted upon is Tom Mulcair.
Let us be honest - if only because the NDP never will be with itself - had the Archangel Gabriel been leading the NDP in 2015 they would have lost. There was no way the party of protest could have formed even a shaky minority government. Weird things happen in politics - see Notley, Rachel - but short of both the Grits and Tories committing mass electoral suicide the best the NDP could have done last October was hold the Tories to a minority. Given the party's shallow roots in Quebec - based almost entirely on Jack Layton's charisma - the chances of another charismatic politician - Justin Trudeau - sweeping in and stealing those votes was very high. What few predicated was that the GTA would have fallen for Justin's well coiffed charms. Certainly I didn't see it coming.
It's easy enough to demand the downfall of the King. It's harder to figure out who should replace him. Our orange clad friends have an important question to ask themselves in 2016: If not Tom Mulcair then who? The likely answer will be far worse than Angry Tom.