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AVAILABLE EXPERT - Thomas Mulcair and the NDP Leadership

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Queen's University political and labour history professor, Christo Aivalis, is available to comment on NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and the prospects of a leadership review at next week's NDP convention. Earlier today, two separate stories were reported that could affect Mr. Mulcair's chances to remain party leader.

First, an Ekos poll shows the New Democrats have the support of 11.7 per cent of Canadians – down eight percentage points since last October’s election and the lowest level since 2003. Second, The working group of New Democrats tasked with reviewing their party's performance in the 2015 election issued a report Thursday morning that criticized the NDP campaign as "out of sync" with Canadians' desire to break from Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

"Since the NDP's electoral disappointment last October, Leader Tom Mulcair has been under fire from many party members who feel a new course--and new leader--is needed," says Dr. Aivalis. "In response, Mulcair has embraced a more left-leaning rhetoric, has backed off many of his election strategies and has attempted to cast himself not as the pragmatic centrist running for Prime Minister, but as the democratic socialist best able to hold the government to account.While last week Mulcair got key endorsements from many of Canada's largest labour unions--who will be vital in getting delegates to Edmonton--the concern is that recent polling data, which puts the NDP below its 2003 levels of support before Jack Layton led the party, might well activate member discontent."

Dr. Aivalis says that the polling results are troubling, in part due to Mr. Mulcair's comparably strong personal approval numbers. He says Mr. Mulcair was chosen as leader because he was the pragmatic option and that being down in the polls could sway convention delegates who were - until now - undecided.

"It must be remembered that Mulcair was chosen not as a principled leftist meant to carry socialist principles even in defeat," says Dr. Aivalis. "He was chosen as the best chance of moving to the centre and winning federal power. People sold that bill of goods at the 2013 leadership convention might well feel a new path is needed."   

Dr. Aivalis is available for interview after 2:30 pm EDT on Thursday, March 31 and during the day on Friday, April 1.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

Follow Queen’s News and Media Services on Twitter: http://twitter.com/QueensuMedia.

Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston with HD-SDI. Please call for details.

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