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  Why Tom Mulcair is Stephen Harper’s first real Opposition threat in years
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ContributorMonsieur 
Last EditedMonsieur  Mar 30, 2012 11:04am
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CategoryAnalysis
AuthorPaul Wells
News DateFriday, March 30, 2012 07:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionTom Mulcair is the most experienced opposition leader Stephen Harper has faced. Between Quebec’s national assembly and the federal Parliament, he’s been in elected politics for 18 years. Unlike Paul Martin, who had been in Parliament for nearly as long, Mulcair has been in an opposition party, Jean Charest’s Quebec Liberals, that fought its way to government. He is an effective interrogator of witnesses in parliamentary committees, a skill he should keep using. He’s smart and hungry.

For now, he’s more a danger to Bob Rae than to Stephen Harper.

There is a very large voter market in this country for Canadians who don’t like the Harper record on oil, the environment, and the fate of Canadian heavy manufacturing. One label for that market could be “people who haven’t been voting Conservative.” Those voters have been switching allegiances as they look for a way to stop Harper. In 2011, more than 1.5 million of them left the Liberals, Bloc Québécois and Green party to vote NDP.

It’s an open question whether the NDP can hold those votes. Mulcair gives it a shot at succeeding. The full-year head start he has over a future Liberal leader helps too. The Liberals will probably indulge several months of procedural inanity to transform Bob Rae from Windy Improvising Interim Leader into Windy Improvising Permanent Leader a few months earlier than originally planned. Mulcair is no Happy Warrior Jack Layton, but seriously, neither is Rae. The Liberals need to worry.
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