Canada's New Democratic Party Votes to Replace Mulcair as Leader

  • Call for leadership review after NDP's 3rd place finish in '15
  • Trudeau's Liberals have crowded out nation's left-wing party

Members of Canada’s New Democratic Party voted to replace Tom Mulcair as leader, six months after an election that saw his team drop from a dead heat going into the country’s national election to a distant third.

Mulcair, 61, told delegates on Sunday he would step down after 52 percent of party members gathered at the NDP convention in Edmonton, Alberta, voted in favor of a leadership review. A new party head will be picked in about a year, said Mulcair, who vowed to continue in that role for now.

His departure sends the New Democrats, a party with socialist roots that had its best shot at power in 2015 after rising to second place in the 2011 election, into a leadership race even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enjoys a honeymoon in the polls. The 44-year-old leader is shifting his Liberal Party to the left with promises of social spending and a redistributive agenda, crowding out what is typically NDP territory.

“The disappointment from the election obviously is something that we’re now going to be able to leave behind us with a change at the helm, and that’s fine,” Mulcair said Sunday in comments that were televised by CBC News Network. “Don’t let this very divided vote divide us. Let’s all work together now to choose the best person to take our project forward.”

Mulcair took the NDP helm in 2012 after the death of Jack Layton, under whose watch the New Democrats leapfrogged the Liberals to become Canada’s official opposition for the first time in 2011. Mulcair, a lawyer and former provincial lawmaker seen as a moderate, favored higher corporate taxes to fund a universal national daycare program, and held a slim but persistent lead in opinion polls before the 2015 election.

He ultimately fell to third when Trudeau’s Liberals ousted Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party on Oct. 19. Mulcair’s New Democrats finished with 19.7 percent of the vote and 44 lawmakers in Canada’s 338-seat House of Commons.

Mulcair had said in the days leading up to the convention that he was looking
to get at least 70 percent support from NDP members Sunday.

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