Thomas Mulcair: meet NDP’s new leader

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The fat lady has sung. The final ballot results at the NDP Leadership Convention had Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair beat former NDP party President Brian Topp. Mulcair is now the new leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

It was to be expected. The third ballot had him finish with 27,488 votes (43.8 per cent). Topp finished second with 19,822 votes (31.6 per cent). As per party rules, Nathan Cullen was eliminated. Topp would have needed to acquire more than 75 per cent of Cullen's votes to secure a victory. That was not going to happen.

Mulcair secured 57.2 per cent of the final vote in the fourth round.

So, just who is this new party leader?

Family life:

Mulcair is married to Catherine Pinhas, a Montreal psychologist born in France to a Turkish-Jewish family. They have two children.

Path to political office:

Mulcair comes from a long line of Canadian politicians. His great-grandfather Honoré Mercier was premier of Quebec from 1887 to 1891. At his family's dinner table, politics and current events were served up with the meal.

Born in Ottawa in 1954, Mulcair is the second oldest of 10 children. His father, Harry Donnelly Mulcair, was Irish Canadian and his mother, Jeanne Hurtubise, French Canadian. His father spoke to him in English, his mother in French, which explains his fluency in both. He played street hockey with his francophone neighbours while growing up in Gatineau and Laval.

Mulcair studied law at McGill University. He then pursued a career in the Quebec public service. In 1994, Mulcair decided to run for public office and won the provincial riding of Chomedey under then-Quebec Liberal leader Daniel Johnson.

In 2003, Mulcair became environment minister in the Jean Charest government. After an alleged falling out with the Quebec premier in 2006,  Mulcair decided  to run federally for the NDP and won the federal seat of Outremont, Que., in a by-election.

Mulcair was one of the key reasons the orange wave swept through Quebec in the last federal election.

And if you don't believe he was, just ask him and he'll tell you so.

What to expect:

The common refrain has been that Mulcair would move the NDP to centre of the political spectrum, probably to the chagrin of the party elite (ie: Ed Broadbent, Libby Davies) and the socialists in the party.

Mulcair is also a known supporter of environmental issues.  As former environment minister in Quebec, he was a consistent oil sands critic and a staunch supporter of the Kyoto Accord.

Potential controversies:

Some have dubbed Mulcair as Angry Tom because of his hot temper and sharp-tongued put downs. He's a fiery character who hasn't been afraid to tangle with caucus colleagues.

Another issue that might dog Mulcair is his dual citizenship status. Mulcair holds both Canadian and French citizenships.

Maybe there's a potential Conservative attack ad idea there?