Outgoing NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is trying to paper over a caucus controversy while his deflated team meets in Montreal ahead of the fall sitting of Parliament.
During a speech on Wednesday morning, Mulcair refused to address a push by some members of caucus who want him removed immediately, as opposed to when a successor is named next year.
The effort to oust Mulcair comes five months after he was flatly rejected in a vote by rank-and-file New Democrats at the party’s Edmonton convention.
“My only adversaries in politics are the Liberals sitting across from me in the House of Commons,” Mulcair said.
He has made it clear he has no plans to go anywhere, saying Tuesday he is “touched” by words of support from caucus colleagues.
“We have so much that we’ve been able to accomplish together … that’s who we are,” Mulcair said. “Working in one direction for a more fair Canada.”
The NDP’s core values include environmentalism, pacifism, feminism and socialism, he added.
Quebec NDP MPs Christine Moore and Alexandre Boulerice told reporters Wednesday they continue to support Mulcair.
“I think that Tom Mulcair is an experienced, great, leader,” Boulerice said. “He’s great in the House of Commons, he got almost the unanimous confidence of the caucus last spring.”
Boulerice acknowledged that questions around Mulcair’s leadership are “in the air,” and will have to be discussed during the caucus meeting.
Those opposed to Mulcair’s leadership refuse to talk publicly about the matter.
During the fall sitting of Parliament, the NDP plans to challenge the Liberal government on issues including climate change, health-care funding and indigenous affairs.
It intends to push for the repeal of Bill C-51, a controversial piece of anti-terrorism legislation passed by the previous government.
The Liberals have promised to amend the law, but New Democrats accuse the Trudeau government of moving too slowly on planned reforms.
“They promised that they were going to take out the most offensive parts of Bill C-51, they haven’t done it and we are the only ones who are going to be holding them to account,” Mulcair said.
It is challenging to pounce on the Liberals during the first year of their mandate because Canadians want to give the benefit of the doubt to a fresh face, Mulcair said.
“We’ve been through this before,” he said. “But we have to believe that Canadians are going to start to take notice a little more this time.”
“We’ve been through this before when Liberals steal our platform, steal our ideas … pretend they are on the left.”
Several internal issues are plaguing the NDP, including sliding poll numbers, shrinking fundraising figures and low morale after the devastating election results last October.
So far, there are no candidates seeking to replace Mulcair.