The removal of Tom Mulcair from the position of federal NDP leader reflects a fundamental internal division, said sources within the party.
Former party MP Dan Harris told Humber News that while he felt Mulcair was used as a scapegoat for the NDP’s underperforming in the 2015 federal election, he said the fact that the NDP national convention was held in Edmonton didn’t help.
“For environmentalists, [Mulcair] was too right-wing because he wasn’t anti-pipeline enough,” said Harris, “but for the Albertans at the convention, he wasn’t pro-pipeline enough.”
According to Harris, Mulcair was not directly responsible for the party fumbling their election lead, as he said that Mulcair “inherited” a dilemma that has plagued the NDP for a while.
“In the drive to modernize the party that was led by Jack Layton, a divide was created between the headquarters and the membership,” said Harris.
In a vote of non-confidence Sunday, 52 per cent of the NDP were in support of Mulcair stepping down.
Ali Chatur, co-chair of the federal Young New Democrats, was present at the convention and was shocked when Mulcair announced the results of the vote.
“It was a very strange feeling for a lot of folks. Some were happy that there would be a leadership review,” Chatur told Humber News reporter Christina Romualdo.
Chatur agrees with Harris’ observation that the party was polarized in the Alberta conference.
While Mulcair is still acting as the party leader, a search for his successor will begin in 2017 or 2018.
Chatur said that the next two years would be focused on crystallizing the NDP’s platform.
“It’s about talking to one another, finding out what this party needs to be. Whoever wins leadership needs 100 per cent support. We need to go into the next election as a united party,” said Chatur.
Mulcair took over as NDP leader after winning the 2012 leadership race that followed former leader Jack Layton’s death in 2011.
In the 2011 federal election Mulcair won one of the 59 Quebec ridings that helped the NDP become the official opposition.