Years ago, when I joined the NDP to vote for Jack Layton, I did so because I saw a chance to elect an exceptional leader. I saw the chance to vote for someone who I knew had the ability to reach out to people who didn't vote NDP and convince them that the NDP was the party to best represent and fight for their values. I saw the chance to choose a leader who I knew was good at bringing people together to work toward a common goal. I saw the chance to select a leader who was charismatic, who was great at debating and public speaking in both our official languages. I saw the chance to elect a leader who could take the message of the NDP to all parts of Canada and gain more support.
And, my instincts were right on the money. Jack took the party to the greatest heights ever. Every election he increased the party support and seats in parliament. And, with the latest election, he surpassed what anyone figured he could do and raised the NDP to official opposition status with 103 seats in parliament.
The reasons I voted for Jack are the same reasons that I am voting for Thomas Mulcair.
Thomas Mulcair aims to continue Jack's practise of modernizing how the NDP presents its message to people. Jack worked on this over the years and this is one of the reasons more and more people have been voting NDP. The values of most Canadians are the same as those of the NDP. What Jack was doing, and what Thomas plans to continue to do, was to reach out to Canadians and convince them that the NDP is the party that best represents their interests. To do this isn't to change the values of the party as the other leadership candidates and supporters would have you believe. To do this is to continue to change the way the message is put out there so it is more understandable to Canadians today. Mulcair talks about bringing the centre to the NDP. By this he means to convince most Canadians that the values of the NDP are their values. And he is correct in this – the values of most Canadians are the same as the values of the NDP. But many people, especially the corporate media, don't want you to know/understand this, because then more people would vote NDP instead of for the corporate-supporting parties (Conservatives and Liberals).
When I worked at a research company dealing with public opinion polls for 13 years, I discovered this point – that most people in Canada actually shared the values of the NDP, much more than the values of the other parties. But, strangely enough, most people voted for parties that did not hold the same values. Why is it that so many people continued to vote for parties that did not have their best interests at heart? There are a number of reasons.
- The mainstream media, being made of large corporations themselves, tend to slant their news and opinions to generally favour the parties that favour corporations – the Conservatives and Liberals. And this slant is either blatant or subtle. If you don't pay too much attention to politics, you tend to be more easily swayed by what and how the mainstream media talks about politics in Canada.
- The ruling parties themselves (Conservatives and Liberals) have continued to get messages out that they were the best parties to represent you – the Conservatives claiming that they were the best fiscal managers (when, actually, they are the worst), and the Liberals claiming that they were the most socially responsible party (borrowing from the NDP during election campaigns) (when actually they have always governed from the right when in power, and have supported more socially conservative policies when in opposition).
- The message from the NDP has been outdated and out of focus. Many of the NDP values and accomplishments are unknown or misunderstood by most people in Canada. This is due to poor communications from the party/leader, to Canadians (as well as to the other 2 points above).
The first two points can't be controlled by the party or the leader. But, we can improve on the third point. Jack Layton began to change how the NDP presented itself so as to better inform people of the NDP successes in government and what we stand for. We need someone to lead the party who not only understands this, but is able to improve on the NDP message to Canadians. Thomas Mulcair understands this need and says he will improve/modernize the message. He has proved that he can do this. He was instrumental in the way the NDP message went out to Quebec in the last election campaign. And, we can see the success that change in message brought – the NDP went from 1 seat to 59 seats in Quebec.
There is no question, even from the opposing leadership candidates, that Thomas Muclair is the most charismatic, and that he is the best debater and public speaker. Combine these facts with his passion, vision and ability to not only bring people together but to convince more people to vote NDP, and there is no doubt that Mulcair would make the best leader of the party. As NDP members, we are not only choosing the leader of the party, but who will be the next Prime Minister of Canada. With Mulcair leading the party, I'm confident that the NDP can form the next Government of Canada.