Sunday, December 04, 2011

NDP Leadership Debate confirms there are 4 realistic contenders

Out of nine.

However, we can be proud that a Canadian party could field nine candidates of this calibre, any one of whom would knock spots of the whole Republican slate for presidency (except The Newt).

I watched these contenders, listened to their speeches and answers, watched the interplay between them, and thought how anyone who had no knowledge of these men and women would find them.

There were few fireworks and little genuine debate:

The bilingual debate — with the first hour in English and the second in French — on the economy seemed more like a series of short stump speeches than a genuine contest as candidates chose to trumpet their experience and sometimes indistinguishable ideas rather than go after each other.

There are more debates to come, but it is clear to me that there are realistically only four who will provide the leader: Mulcair (the most experienced and polished; Nash (waffly but coherent); Topp (wilting a bit under the stress and pushing his talking points without regard for the flow of the debate); and the surprise of the whole lot, Cullen.

Cullen and Mulcair stand head and shoulders above all the others with respect to poise, command of the issues, the ability to talk fluently about them, and their grasp of the contours of the debate.

It was also clear that the rest of the group acknowledged this pecking order, through their body language.

So we have three tiers going into the next debate – five who are clearly out of the running, two who are possibles, and two who are in a class by themselves.

If you asked who looked and behaved like a prime minister in the waiting, you would have to conclude that both Mulcair and Cullen did.


  1. Dewar is likely also a contender. I was surprised by his uncharacteristically poor performance this evening, but I wouldn't count him out yet.

    As John Ivison pointed out (link: ) the fact the Topp went out on the attack against Dewar suggests the former considers him a major threat.

  2. I agree that Mulcair nailed it and Cullen came off as genuine and knowledgable. Cullen didn't surprise me. He's very self-assured, always appears at ease. I could see either of them going up against Harper well.

    Topp didn't look as comfortable. He's trying to hard to bring this thing home before the campaign has started and it shows.

    Nash and Ashton both presented well. But Ashton needs to be introduced to the country, perhaps as a cabinet minister before she'll be taken seriously. (Sorry, young women named Niki only get to govern Southern states. We're just not that evolved.)

    Chisholm won't get my vote because he speaks no French. The PM should speak both languages.

    The rest didn't register anything with me.

  3. Topp delivered perhaps the most succinct and substantive answers, not bad for his first public political debate.

  4. disqualifying based on age violates the principles that the NDP was founded on, the only reason is people aren't putting her in the first tier is pure agism, she has won her riding twice, speaks four languages and is working on more, she was runner up for MP that worked hardest for her riding, has been both a major critic and a commitee chair, beat out a veteran MP for the nomination of her riding (people say inexperience, what inexperience? We should all have that level of inexperience), she has more electoral experience then Topp or Signh, more federal experience then Chisholm or Saganash, has endorsements from MLAs, proviencial cabinate minsters, Noah Evanchuck, Native Chiefs (possibly more then Saganash), A fire fighter Unions. She has the third most Quebec MP endorsements, beating Peggy Nash, Paul Dewar, and even Saganash btw. She has passion, she gets her points across, she has confidence, she even has semi endorsements from two rivals, Peggy Nash, and Brian Topp!

    Yet I keep hearing that she too young and should drop out. Not from doing badly in the debate or an unpopular policy, but unrepant agism.

    How is this any more acceptable then attacking a candiatate for race or gender. Treating Nikki like a child when she an adult, a grown women is straight up bigotry and beneath the NDP. You should apologize, she can change being 29 any more then another candiate change biologic sex or race and should have no bearing on the leadership race.

  5. Ashton should stay the course as should all the nine. The NDP will benefit from having a full house for the next 3 or so months; and having paid their admission fee of $15,000, they should simply show up for the next five debates.

    However, that does not mean that the race is now between the 'old guard' twosome (Mulcair ahead on all that counts except signed up members, and Topp blessed by the establishment because of his links of the past), and the Layton-clone, Nathan Cullen.

    As the debates sharpen, expect Cullen to perform increasingly well, Topp to fade, Mulcair to try to rattle Cullen, and finally the polls to show a close race going into March between Cullen and Mulcair.

    One key element will be the polls. Will they coalesce around one, or will enough wait until the last minute? The latter, I expect.

    It will then become a battle over Layton - Mulcair fighting for recognition as the man who stood shoulder to shoulder with Layton to win Quebec, and Cullen asking members to consider how Layton came up the middle in a surprise win.

    History can be repeated, the Cullen folks will say.

    Layton's mantle belongs to me, Mulclair will suggest.

  6. If Topp could connect better and I felt he could appeal voters more he'd be higher on my list. I do like his ideas and as his command of tactics. If polls show Topp is connecting with voters he'll go up my list.

    My list so far 1 Mulcair, 2 Ashton, 3 Saganash, 4 Nash, 5 Topp, 6 Dewar, 7 Cullen, 8 Signh, 9 Chisholm.

    Cullen may have been higher too, but he alienated too many people with joint nominations, even people who like him and his charisma, he just burnt to many bridges.

    Most likely it'll be Nash and Mulcair on the final ballet, with a chance of Ashton instead of Nash if Nikki can concolidate the rural vote and pairie city votes behind her when Saganash and Cullen go down.

    Martin Signh's votes will mostly go Mulcair, Chisholms will split between Mulcair and Nash, Topps will split between Mulcair and Nash, and the bulk of Dewar's will go to Ashton with some drifting to Nash and if Ashton can hold on till Saganash and Cullen go down then the bulk of thier votes will go to Nikki.
    Then the question will be if Nikki can beat Nash, if she does then I think that the Bulk of Nash's vote will go Ashton and she could win, if Nash wins I think Mulcair will take the prize. This is just a guess.

    Kind of like rock, paper, scissors. Ashton could beat Mulcair, Mulcair could be Nash, and Nash could beat Ashton. I could be wrong, I reserve the right to change my option.

  7. More brains and ability on that stage than on the whole conservative bench.

  8. I would still like to see Romeo there because it would be an important historical step to have a First Nations person at the helm of a national party. Topp knows what he is talking about but has absolutely no charisma. (On the other hand Harper has won several elections with even less charisma). Mulcair is just to abrasive. Nash doen't have quite enough bite. Ashton is interesting and good but young and is, I think, making a first run to set herself up for later on. Signh is still unknown to me, we'll see. Dewar is a bit of a milquetoast. That leaves Cullen.


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