Any question that begins with, "is the NDP stupid enough..?" usually has 'yes' as the answer. But this time, on the question of whether they reject Thomas Mulcair to maintain purist socialist and anti-Western principles that dominate the party, we may see an exception. The New Democratic Party's March 24 leadership convention will reveal the extent of the Canadian far left's will to survive as a political force.
Mulcair has a reputation for being mean-spirited and aggressive. But he is, by leaps and bounds, the most intelligent, robust and capable of the NDP's weak line-up of leadership candidates, with Paul Dewar playing a distant second in the group of also-rans. Unlike the one-time front-runner Brian Topp, who has no legislative experience at all, and was relying on being the anointed choice of most of the late Jack Layton's inner circle, Mulcair has charisma and the ability to engage an audience. That is an ironic turn, since Topp was the head of Canada's actors union. Which just goes to show that those who can, do, and those who can't leech off the union dues of those who can.
The only candidates that have any chance to emerge as leader are Mulcair, Topp, Foreign Affairs Critic Dewar, and Toronto MP Peggy Nash. Other than Mulcair, the remaining three are representatives of the stereotypical ineptness that has prevented most political observers from taking the NDP seriously.
Bob Rae once took the NDP to its pinnacle, leading it to be the governing party in Canada's most populous and prosperous province from 1990 to 1995. The outcome of that was Rae's defection to the Liberal Party upon his experiencing the reality that the NDP is comprised of incompetents unfit to govern. Rae's Ontario cabinet meetings must have resembled Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, being flanked by dim-witted scoundrels spurring him to wonder aloud, "why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots?!" At the time, the NDP caucus became known as The Clampetts after the out-of-their depth family from TV`s The Beverly Hillbillies.
Indeed, should Mulcair ascend to the leadership of the national NDP, his first and biggest challenge will be to purge his party`s upper ranks of embarrassments to the party's credibility, like anti-Israel fanatic Libby Davies. Davies humiliated the NDP in 2010 with an impromptu video interview in which she effectively denied the legitimacy of the Jewish state and endorsed the vapid Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign against it. The so-called BDS was recently denounced by one of the leading figures in the anti-Israel movement, Norman Finkelstein, as a `cult` made up of liars whose goal is the destruction of Israel. Yet Davies, who was expressly told not to engage in the Israel issue by Dewar and Jack Layton, evidently has some psychological condition that renders her incapable of inhibiting herself in that subject. Just a few days ago she was billed as a speaker at an event promoting the anti-Israel boycott and lauding the failed Sea Hitler boat mission that attempted to break Israel`s arms embargo of Gaza. Along with verteran MPs like Joe Comartin and Pat Martin, who are regular sources of embarrassment to the NDP, Mulcair will have a lot to contend with if he takes the reins of Canada`s political joke party.
But for the NDP, that would be considerably preferable to the alternative of sliding back to the obscurity of being the third party, which would be all but guaranteed under Peggy Nash, who wants to make nice with terrorists from Hezbollah, were she to become the new party leader. The same sorry fate would ensue from a victory by the staggeringly boring Topp, who in addition to having the backing of Libby Davies, just acquired the endorsement of the anti-Semitic, terrorist-supporting Canadian Arab Federation.
Mulcair is the only NDP leadership candidate with credibility in Quebec, which now represents half their caucus. On March 24, the NDP will choose between that credibility along with the chance of being a serious Opposition that Mulcair provides, or by rejecting him, prove that radicalism and bubble-headed stupidity are the only constants of which the New Democrats are capable.