EDITORIAL: No need to be like Jack

After Jack Layton died, everyone knew that whoever replaced him as federal leader of the NDP would have giant shoes to fill.

After Jack Layton died, everyone knew that whoever replaced him as federal leader of the NDP would have giant shoes to fill.

Layton’s talent for uniting the party and reaching out to people across the country made him a sort of folk legend, even before cancer stole him too soon at age 61.

Newly selected NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, the 57-year-old Quebecer who helped Layton transform the party from a virtual non-entity in that province to a substantial force, taking 58 of 75 seats in last year’s election, is clearly a leader of some repute.

What is also clear is he doesn’t have the charisma Layton had, and developed, as the Orange crush flattened the Liberal red machine to become the official Opposition to Stephen Harper’s Conservative majority in May 2011.

Mulcair, who was not the first choice as leader for Capital Region MPs Denise Savoie (Victoria) and Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) until the final ballot at the recent convention, has been a virtual unknown on the West Coast – unlike Layton – for all except diehard politics watchers.

But does a leader known for being prickly have to be the second coming of Layton to win the hearts and minds of people west of Thunder Bay? Harper has shown that a leader can come across to many as cold and calculating, yet still win a majority in parliament.

Let’s remember that even under Layton, the NDP won just 15 of 77 seats in the western provinces, including 12 in B.C.

To win over non-NDP voters, it’ll take more than criss-crossing the country connecting with people, as Layton famously did – he visited Victoria more often than we might have expected for a Toronto MP.

Mulcair will be put under the microscope about everything from his policies to his personality, by his supporters and critics alike, in the three years leading to the next election.

In that time, he must prove he is his own person, a leader who stands on his own feet. And he must avoid handlers who would try to make him a kindler, gentler version of himself.

Just Posted

Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

The Harbour celebrates its first anniversary with a report of zero deaths on site

Celebrate 50 years of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and the Apollo 11 moonlanding

‘Ground control to Major Tom’ the countdown is on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Most Read