Fundraiser shows new face of NDP

James McLeod
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

New leader condemns closure of rescue centre

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and his provincial counterpart, Lorraine Michael sit together after dinner, waiting to speak to a crowd of about 200 New Democrats at the Battery Hotel in St. John’s Saturday. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael summed up the tone of Saturday night’s fundraising dinner, as she introduced federal Leader Tom Mulcair.

“We’re in the big leagues now,” Michael said. “We all know what happened in October. We broke through. We broke through in a way that we hoped would happen, but until it happens, it isn’t there.”

Roughly 200 people shelled out $150 for a dinner and a chance to hear Mulcair speak in the province for the first time since he was elected leader of the federal party.

Plenty of longtime party members were among the crowd, but there was also a distinct feeling this was the new New Democratic Party.

“If you look around the room, the faces are changing,” St. John’s South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary said. “There are people here at this event, for example, that I’ve never seen before, that I’ve never met before. It’s changing in that the base is growing, the foundation is growing.”

Mulcair’s speech focused on a progressive view of the economy, saying Canada should be doing more to process its natural resources rather than shipping raw bitumen, lumber and fish out of the country.

Mulcair also hit on several local issues, condemning Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the closure of the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s, and decrying the closure of fish plants.

“We’re now seeing more and more of the catch off your coast shipped to China for processing while we have plants here that lay idle,” he said. “There’s something seriously wrong with us as a nation; this is Third World behaviour.”

Mulcair also emphasized his message Canada should be forcing oil producers in Alberta to pay for all of the environmental costs of the bitumen they’re extracting.

“We want development, but we want to make sure that we assume in our generation responsibility for what we’re doing. We want trade, but we want equitable fair trade,” he said.

 “Right now we’ve lost hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs because we’re not including the environmental costs in the product that we’re selling from the oil sands. These are basic principles of sustainable development, like polluter pay.”

His message was condemned by the federal Conservative Party. In anticipation of Mulcair arriving in the province, Labrador MP Peter Penashue issued a release attacking him.

“Thomas Mulcair wants to shut down the responsible development of our resources and kill jobs,” Penashue said. “Perhaps he’s just blissfully ignorant, but many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians work in Alberta and other provinces in the oil and gas industry to support their loved ones here in our province.”

Speaking to reporters Saturday night, Mulcair shrugged off the attack.

“I was a little bit surprised because Peter Penashue used to be a fairly progressive fellow,” Mulcair said. “I was disappointed to see that he’s lowering himself to parroting the sentences that are written out on a piece of paper for him by the people in the Prime Minister’s office.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise in Mulcair’s speech, though, was when he waded into St. John’s municipal politics, endorsing Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary for mayor.

O’Leary is widely expected to run for mayor in the 2013 municipal election. She’s said she’s thinking about it, but hasn’t made any formal commitment.

That didn’t stop Mulcair from calling her “one of the most extraordinary politicians I’ve met in a long time” and endorsing her for mayor.

“I promise you I’ll be back, of course, many times to Newfoundland and Labrador, but I’ll really promise you I’ll be back to make sure that Sheilagh O’Leary is the next mayor of St. John’s,” he said.

O’Leary laughed it off, saying that it feels good to have a political heavyweight in her corner.

“I’m so ecstatic to have the kind of support from a national leader like Tom Mulcair behind me. It’s just incredible that he would have that kind of confidence in me to run for the office of mayor,” she said. “I absolutely am thinking about it for sure, and it’s a year and a half down the road. We’ll see what happens.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: New Democratic Party, Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre, Conservative Party

Geographic location: Canada, Alberta, China Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Anon
    May 14, 2012 - 14:00

    I did not support Mr. Mulcaire in his bid for the NDP leadership and as a party that's supposed to be representing the blue collar people of this country, I find it a little disheartening to see a $150 dollar a plate dinner to fundraise. I'd happily pay twenty bucks but not a hundred and fifty. I don't care what St. John's does with it's council because they can't do a worse job than they're doing now anyway. Mr. Mulcaire sure does a good job at making himself look like he knows and cares about local politics but all I hear are words and all I see are my tax dollars being wasted. Down with Parliament. Occupy Everything until something works.

  • fabian connors
    May 14, 2012 - 12:57

    dear mr. mulcair, you party was elected less than a year ago to lead the official opposition. why are you not in ottawa doing your job in the house of commons,instead of already being on the campain trail of an election thats over 3 years away .. you sir are no jack layton, they can dress you up as much as they want . jack layton was a man with class, you sir , lack this importent quality, you are a self serving polictition, as a newfoundlander , i find your remarks about o,leary ,totally out of line , don,t let the door hit your arse, as you leave st,johns,,signged fabian connors [not a supporter ]......

  • sealcove
    May 14, 2012 - 11:26

    Edmund you are spot on

  • James S
    May 14, 2012 - 10:48

    The federal Liberal Party lost Official Opposition status to the NDP in the general election. Now they are simply doping what political parties do, build for the future. The Liberals did the same thing with Siobhan Coady; now the Liberals don't count for much anymore, the NDP will take this opportunity to garner profile for one of their own. O'Leary might run for Mayor but she might run for the provincial NDP as well. It's about building her profile.

  • Edmund
    May 14, 2012 - 10:22

    Another mainland politician comes to town preaching to us about how he will change the country and how we should elect people he endorses. In typical Ontario style he is putting east against west (a very bad idea) to try and get more votes from Ontario and is trying to stroke us locals for whatever he can get without knowing very much about us. AND then to go and support this one O'Leary for mayor shows he is totally out to lunch and ill informed. She is a self serving, egotistical individual who is in politics so she can look like she is doing something. When she gets up to speak at council meetings it's, "I did this" and I did that and I attended this and that. Always about me, me, me.That and her whining presentation are not what we want or need for a mayor to run this city. I would take O'Keefe any day over her and I question his leadership. Why are there not some proper business people coming forward. Bruce Tilley is the best choice from the existing lot.

    • Chantal
      May 14, 2012 - 15:25

      Yes. A MAINDLANDER presenting his partie's political platform to Newfoundlanders!!! Who has ever heard of such a thing? Typical Ontarian... Oh, wait, I thought he was Quebecios. Well, those MAINLANDERS all look the same.

  • Doug
    May 14, 2012 - 09:39

    Mulcair is federal politican and his NDP party would naturally support the Provinicial NDP party - and vice versa. I suggest that he sometimes shoots from the mouth before processing the thoughts through the brain. His remarks regarding O'Leary and the St. John's mayorial contest were totally out of line.