There is speculation from unnamed sources in the Hill Times today that the NDP brain trust will set up rules for the upcoming leadership contest that would hurt prospective candidate Thomas Mulcair, whose political base lies in Quebec.
This assumption, if you think about it for a second, defies all logic and assumes that all the political smarts that New Democrats have shown in the past decade also died with Jack Layton.
For if someone is trying to game the rules to shut out Mulcair, they are, in essence, saying to the province that just gave them 59 MPs — thanks, but the rest of Canada will choose the next NDP leader. Your help is not required.
And of course, that won't happen.
In fact, for New Democrats, the only silver lining that I can see to the very dark cloud that is Layton's death, is that it could hasten the work that Layton and others had already started to “consolidate” their historic gains in Quebec.
And to do that, a strong Quebec candidate — like Mulcair — or perhaps another, like, say, Alexandre Boulerice or Guy Caron (see below), is vital.
As every political organizer knows, there is nothing like a leadership race to build interest in a party and find new card-carrying members. And this is precisely what the party was starting to do in Quebec — sign up new card-carrying members.
I cannot under any circumstances envision the NDP's ruling council foregoing such an opportunity by, say, limiting voters in a January leadership contest to those who were members four months prior to the vote (something the NDP has done before). In fact, I quite expect the ruling council to go out of its way to encourage Quebecers to get involved in this leadership race.
And, if they don't run themselves for the leadership, I expect Boulerice and Caron will be invaluable to prospective leadership candidates both of whom have strong ties to organized labour in Quebec which would be, if you ask me, an easy source of new NDP members.