I’m still trying to decide who to vote for in the NDP leadership race. I didn’t know much about the candidates before, so I’ve been watching the debates and following the blogosphere. My criteria for leader – charisma, inspiration, and the ability to defeat Stephen Harper. Here’s who’s impressed me the most.
1. The Bald – Nathan Cullen
More than any of the other candidates, Nathan Cullen thrives in debates. Why isn’t he on tv more? He’s exciting, knowledgeable, and funny. Electoral reform and the environment (whoot!) are his top priorities, and he’s been a strong opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Lastly, he wants to beat Stephen Harper so bad he’s willing to consider joint nominations with the Greens and Liberals in some ridings. Most progressives I know would applaud him for this, but within some NDP circles the idea is kryptonite. I was a bit skeptical at first (as a voter I like having choice), but the plan has merits.
Strengths: Environmentalist, amazing debater, and willing to be bold.
2. The Beard – Thomas Mulcair
More than any of the candidates, Mulcair looks like he should be Prime Minister. It’s the way he speaks. He’s normally calm and reasoned, but he can also be extremely passionate. His environmental credentials are top-notch, but he is often questioned about his commitment to the NDP because he comes from the Quebec Liberal Party. Personally, I think the NDP needs to widen its base and Mulcair is a good example of that. The real question is can the NDP transition from a great mustache to a great beard?
Strengths: Environmentalist, articulate in both languages, and passionate.
3. The Brains – Brian Topp
Brian Topp is considered the brains behind the NDP’s breakthrough in the past few years. He’s a smart guy and he’s reasonably charismatic, especially if you compare him to Stephen Harper. On a policy front, his priorities are fairer taxes and increasing funding to social services. The left-wing side of the NDP love him, and he’s received the most high-profile endorsements. His youtube channel is full of slick videos and celebrity endorsements, but he doesn’t excite me as much as Cullen or Mulcair.
Strengths: Smart and progressive.
If you want to get a better sense of the candidates, the debates are online. Here’s a collection of short youtube clips starting with a funny one from 22 Minutes.