Members of the NDP have soundly rejected Tom Mulcair’s bid to stay on as the party’s leader, voting 52 per cent in favour of choosing a replacement within the next 24 months.
Mulcair, who less than a year ago appeared to be well-positioned to become Canada’s first NDP prime minister, received just 48 per cent support from delegates at the NDP convention in Edmonton.
However, Mulcair — who addressed the convention shortly after the results were announced — said he would stay on as leader until a successor is chosen.
“The only thing that’s important is that we leave here united,” a calm, resigned-looking Mulcair told delegates. “The person who replaces me must have the absolute and complete support of 100 per cent of the members of the NDP.”
He thanked his wife and the delegates, and urged the party to come together around his successor, whomever that turns out to be.
“We will always be the party that dreams no small dreams,” Mulcair said. “We will always be the party that thinks about the little guy.”
A bare-minimum 50 per cent plus one vote would have been necessary for Mulcair to stay on, let alone have anywhere near enough support for a confident mandate — a threshold some had pegged at closer to 70 per cent.
The result left the cavernous convention floor in a stunned silence. Mulcair was backstage as the result was announced.
The decision — a far worse result for Mulcair than even his fiercest detractors might have expected — was the culmination of a festering dispute over the NDP’s future direction in the wake of last year’s devastating election loss.
Less than six months ago, the party was badly outflanked by the Liberals in last October’s federal election and reduced to third-place status in the House of Commons.