For those of you who don’t follow Canadian politics, Thomas Mulcair is the new leader of the Official Opposition, the NDP (New Democratic Party). His performance at the convention inspired Scott Feschuk:
Most New Democrats who’d be choosing the party’s next leader had voted before the convention even began. Thomas Mulcair could have used his 20 minutes of stage time before the first ballot to repeatedly punch a cat in the face — and still he would have won the leadership. As a bonus, smacking around a kitty would have earned him less hostility and criticism than he took for his speeches.
Mulcair’s performance during the candidates’ showcase began with a line of drummers snaking its way through the hall. This was meant to go on for three minutes. It went on for 10 because, hey, who doesn’t love an interminable drum solo, right? Suddenly up against the clock, Mulcair could have chosen to pare his remarks — but clearly the man didn’t want to deprive us of a single syllable of genius. And so out came the words, fast and then faster. Sweat formed along his brow and down his nose. By the end, Mulcair sounded like a guy reciting a legal disclaimer at the end of a radio commercial. No one remembered a word of it.
After the vote, the winner’s speech to the party faithful:
The first five minutes of Mulcair’s acceptance speech were devoted to thank yous. In any campaign, many are owed a debt — and public gestures of appreciation are a key currency of politics. But even here, the address had its odd moments. Mulcair gently ridiculed the labour-inspired NDP tradition of referring to one another as “brothers and sisters.” He carefully followed a written text in issuing words of thanks to his relatives. And then came this line, delivered in French but translated on TV: “To my mother — my Mom, who with her brothers and sisters is up north watching us: Hello.”
Should Mulcair fail over the course of his leadership to develop a common touch and connect with Canadians, these four words may serve as his political epitaph: “To my Mom: Hello.”
Mulcair then got to the meat of his speech. It made for tough chewing. He said things like “Young people are active in their community groups.” He said things like “Leadership comes in many forms.” Mulcair spoke with all the dynamism and charm of an economics professor, his face buried in his text. Voters of Canada, the NDP would like to introduce you to its new leader: the top of this guy’s head!