The honeymoon phase, a politican can do no wrong, shiny and new, the simple ability to stand erect translates to fawning praise. Case in point, apparently Mr. Mulcair had a great week in Parliament, but really it was pretty ordinary by normal standards. Perhaps a human condition, we tend to exaggerate "newness" because of inherent attributes it entails, as opposed to simple recognition of objective performance. This sensibility works well during the "honeymoon" phase, but inevitability the "flavour of the month" wanes and in Canadian politics were are left with one of the most uneviable job, that of Opposition Leader.
The opposition parties have been working reasonably well together of late. People will recall during the Liberal years, even more ideological divergent parties also worked well together, a common enemy tends to blur edges. However, with the arrival of Thomas Mulcair, we have seen an almost instanteous poisoning of the "relationship" between the NDP and Liberals. Granted, the Liberals have reacted defensively, as they come to grips with life that involves a permanent, robust Leader of the Opposition, but it's more than that, and it is here we need to train our gaze moving forward.
A very interesting observation from former MP Glen Pearson on his blog, well worth a read beyond the quotation I present:
Which brings us to Thomas Mulcair. I never talked to the man – by his own choice. We sat in the same lobby together for a number of years and not once did he acknowledge me when I said hello – likely because I wasn’t a significant player. He would journey down to our end of the lobby to grab a coffee or a tea, always with blinders on, and always with no intention of talking to any of us. If there were ever to be an initiative to work in compromise with other parties, this might prove difficult now.
Let me state here that I have always had an appreciation for the NDP, despite some difficult moments early in my political tenure. People like Paul Dewar, Chris Charlton, Nathan Cullen, Joe Comartin, Irene Matthyssen, and, yes, Jack Layton, came to be my friends.
I note, Rae has alluded to a similar point, obviously a sense that Mulcair is not someone you can collobrate with. You can chalk it up to partisanship, but I note this is the same vein that people like Broadbent, Rebick have articulated, the sense "nobody can work with this guy". Pearson conveys an arrogance, as well as looming liability, because a politican who can't build consensus is doomed, not a luxury trait, an utter must. When the honeymoon ends and serious critique begins, it is here that Mulcair may seem vulnerable. Is the pettiness we heard this week from the opposition benches the new reality with Mulcair? I posit that "edge" will wear thin and the inability of the opposition to get along will be a contributing factor to further apathy. As well, style is style, if one is abrasive and "impossible", you don't confine that expression to certain entities, this character flaw with also manifest within the family.
When the tan lines fade, I'll be looking to see if Mulcair is truly capable of reaching out, building consensus, rallying in inspiring fashion, demonstrating a capacity for team play. Say what we want about Harper's temper, Harper's almost anti-social disposition, he was and is a master at keeping all oars in the water rowing in the name of common cause, that's partially why he is Prime Minister today. The jury is very much out on Thomas Mulcair, the recollections of Mr. Pearson instructive when the real scrutiny begins.