Whether you know him best as a lawyer or as “angry Tom,” Tom Mulcair is one politician who may be best known in a couple weeks time as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister. Indeed, currently serving as the leader of the New Democratic Party and Leader of the Opposition, Mulcair is arguably in the best position to replace Stephen Harper after the federal election concludes on October 19. At least he was in the best position up until two weeks ago, when new polls revealed support for Mulcair’s NDP dwindling and support for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals surging. However, polls can’t always be trusted: In British Columbia’s 2013 Provincial election, polls inaccurately predicted the NDP would defeat Christy Clark’s Liberals. Also, up to 40% of voters are reportedly still undecided, which makes polls less reliable on election day.
Nevertheless, whether Tom gets elected or not, he’s still enjoyed a career that many would be envious of. Being a lawyer and a Provincial Member of the National Assembly of Quebec, as well as being the current leader of the federal NDP, is a massive accomplishment. However, despite Mulcair’s achievements, there exists a number of reasons why Canadians are skeptical about trusting him. He used to be a provincial Liberal and he’s disregarded the law on a couple of occasions, among other things.
This article will expose facts that you may not know about Tom Mulcair, from his personal life and career, to promises he’s made if the NDP form the next government.
15. Mulcair was selected leader of the NDP with more than 50% of the votes
At the leadership election on March 24, 2012, Thomas Mulcair won on the fourth and final ballot with 57.2% of the votes. The leadership election was called following the tragic death of Jack Layton, who died at 61 years old from cancer. Initially the leadership convention was to be held at Exhibition Place’s Allstream Centre, but due to a larger than expected turn out of delegates and party members, it was moved to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Mulcair became the seventh elected leader of the NDP since it’s founding and concomitantly assumed the position of Leader of the Official Opposition.
14. Mulcair used to be a lawyer
Before becoming a politician, Mulcair was a lawyer for the government of Quebec. Considering he graduated from McGill University with degrees in common law and civil law, Mulcair’s initial career path wasn’t surprising. In the early 1990’s, Mulcair was credited for introducing reforms that made disciplinary hearings more transparent and for also spearheading the charge to expose sexual misconduct by doctors and lawyers.
13. Mulcair used to be a member of the Liberal Party
In 1994, Mulcair was elected as a Provincial Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for the Liberal Party in the riding of Chomeday, Laval. In 2003, the newly elected Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, appointed Mulcair to be the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks. In February, 2006, following disagreements over government development plans, a cabinet shuffle resulted in Mulcair being removed his ministerial position. Following his dismissal, Mulcair resigned from the Quebec Liberal Party. According to Mulcair, his decision to run for the Liberal party was due to the fact that, at the time, he perceived it to be the only credible federalist political party in Quebec.
12. Mulcair almost joined the Conservative Party
After parting ways with the Quebec Liberal Party, Mulcair became interested in federal politics and had discussions with the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Conservative Party of Canada. Mulcair reportedly had multiple conversations with the Conservative party in 2007, in which he discussed the possibility of becoming an environmental adviser to the government. What’s interesting is that there exists multiple contrasting reasons for why talks eventually broke down between Mulcair and the Conservatives. According to former Conservative aide Dimitri Soudas, talks broke down because the Conservative party could only offer Mulcair a $180,000 salary when he was demanding $300,000. On the other hand, other reports detail talks broke down because Mulcair and the Conservatives disagreed over environmental policies – in particular the Kyoto Protocol.
11. Mulcair was the first New Democrat to win a riding in Quebec during a federal election
In 2007, Mulcair won a by-election in the riding of Outremont, Quebec. The next year, he made history by becoming the first New Democratic candidate to win and retain his Quebec seat in a federal election. Other New Democratic candidates had gained seats in Quebec prior to Mulcair, but only through by-elections and crossing the floor.
10. Mulcair was fined $95,000 for defamatory comments targeting a PQ minister
In 2005, Mulcair was fined $95,000 for calling former Party Quebecois minister Yves Duhaime a “péquiste slut” following a taped television interview. Mulcair, who was a Liberal Opposition MLA at the time, made the comments after allegations that Duhaime had been involved in an influence-peddling scam with the PQ government. Mulcair’s poor choice of words were eventually deemed defamatory by Justice André Denis, who concluded that a fee of $95,000 would be an appropriate punishment.
9. Mulcair has pledged to reduce small business taxes from 11% to 9%
During election campaigns, political parties tend to make a lot of promises, some they fail to keep once elected to form government, and as this article will show Tom’s NDP have made a lot of promises. One of these promises is reducing small business taxes from 11% to 9%. Tom argued that his decision to reduce small business taxes is to help the sector that creates 80% of all new private sector jobs in Canada. What’s important to note is that this promise is not unique to the NDP, as both the Green and Liberal party have also stated they’d reduce small business taxes.
8. Mulcair has pledged to return eligibility for Old Age Security from 67 to 65
Mulcair has pledged to expand the Canada/ Quebec Pension Plan and restore Old Age Security eligibility from 67 to 65 years old. According the NDP, this policy is backed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Canada’s own Parliamentary Budget Officer. The NDP has also pledged to further help Canada’s seniors by expanding affordable housing and modernizing health care.
7. Mulcair has French Citizenship
Mulcair attained French citizenship through his marriage to Catherine Pinhas. According to French nationality law, the spouse of a French citizen can apply for citizenship after being married for five years – granted the applicant has adequate knowledge of French. Funnily enough, Tom Mulcair’s dual citizenship has been a topic of debate in recent years because of a quote from the former NDP leader, Jack Layton, in 2006. “I would prefer that a leader of a party hold only Canadian citizenship, because one represents many Canadians, and for me that means that it’s better to remain the citizen of one country.” However, despite Layton’s words and Mulcair’s critics, it should be noted that over 800,000 Canadian citizens hold dual citizenship and that the NDP leader has stated he’ll renounce his French citizenship if elected Prime Minister.
6. Mulcair has pledged to abolish the senate
Mulcair’s NDP is currently the only federal party running in the election that has pledged to abolish the Senate. That being said, Mulcair has admitted that abolition would only be possible if the NDP secured a majority. Furthermore, until that time comes, Mulcair has stated that his party is willing to work with a number of senators to pass legislation in the mean time. Unsurprisingly, his parties pledge has been chastised by the other major parties – who all favour reform – as radical and unrealistic.
5. Mulcair has promised the implementation of a $15 a day child care plan
Mulcair’s promise to implement a $15 a day child care plan is a cornerstone of the NDP’s 2015 election manifesto. Specifically, the NDP plan would aim to create a million daycare spaces across Canada for no more than $15 a day in an effort to relieve the pressures on middle class families. This policy idea would be a dream come true for many struggling families and, as pointed out by NDP critics, a dream is all it could ever be as it’d be too expensive and troublesome to implement. However, for many NDP hopefuls and supporters, Mulcair’s plan is not only doable but also a necessity for millions of Canadian families.
4. Mulcair has promised mixed member proportional representation
If there’s one thing all federal parties should agree on, it’s that the first-past-the-post electoral system has not served Canada well over the last decade. Indeed, Harper’s Conservatives secured a majority government in the last election when it secured 54% of the seats with only 40% of the vote. Considering that statistic along with the basic fact that the first-past-the-post system favours the governing party, it’s no surprise that the only party not calling for electoral reform is the Conservatives. The Liberal and Green party have both said they support electoral reform, however Tom Mulcair’s NDP are the only party pledging that they’d specifically replace the current system with mixed member proportional representation. To find out more about what mixed member proportional representation entails, watch the video link attached below!
3. Mulcair has pledged to repeal Bill C51
Tom Mulcair is the only major party leader who has stated his party will repeal Bill C51, the Conservatives new anti-terror bill that’s been condemned by the United Nations, numerous human rights groups, and the majority of Canadians. And to be fair, as a lawyer Mulcair should be the leader that knows best on this topic. That being said, Mulcair’s promise to repeal the bill has attracted criticisms from the Liberals and Conservatives, who both claim he isn’t proposing any solutions to the increasing terror threats at home.
2. Mulcair once ran through multiple stop signs and asked an RCMP officer “Don’t you know who I am?”
In June 2013, Tom Mulcair drove through a security checkpoint without stopping and also ran through five stop signs on Parliament Hill whilst being pursued by an RCMP vehicle with its lights on. Furthermore, when the RCMP eventually caught up and confronted Mulcair, the Leader of the Opposition asked the officer, “Don’t you know who I am?” According to the RCMP, the security staff on duty attempted to signal to Mulcair to stop at the checkpoint but he just waved at them and continued to drive on past. Following the incident, the NDP leader apologized in person to the security staff and his party issued a statement claiming that the situation was settled. However, Mulcair’s apology was not enough to deter criticism from the Conservatives, who instantly used the altercation to chastise the NDP leader for disregarding the law.
1. Mulcair has vowed to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP): a deal that if implemented, promises to link 40% of the world’s economy and scare thousands of Canadians working in the agriculture and auto sectors. Despite many details of the TPP still unknown, Tom Mulcair stated in an interview with Global News that he’d scrap the deal because it would cost tens of thousands of Canadian families their jobs. Although many Canadians are rightfully suspicious of the TPP and the effect it could have on jobs, opposing parties have argued it’s foolish for the NDP to take such a strong stance on a deal whilst many details remain unknown.