Where Did It All Go Wrong For Tom Mulcair?


After starting the election red hot, Thomas “Tom” Mulcair is projecting to draw a third place finish as per the latest national polls. Where did things go wrong, Tom? The NDP’s last ditch effort to swing voters on the TPP might have the answer. 

Like Mulcair’s campaign, this commercial:

  • Starts strong: It’s easy on the eyes, animation is nice, colours are pretty, the musical score isn’t too doom and gloom.
  • Makes some interesting arguments: I don’t want to pay more money for drugs. Prescription, illicit, whatever. If the TPP is raising the price of drugs, no thanks
  • Reminds me why I’m skeptical about the other two: Stephen Harper puts the S-H in shady, the real slim. And Justin, what’s up? Where do you stand on this? Did you get one too many boxings to that pretty face and you forget about it?

And then, in spite of all its positive qualities, the commercial is unequivocally ruined because it leaves such a bad taste. “Vote NDP to stop Harper and his TPP.” Yuck. Why doesn’t Tom Mulcair just walk into my apartment right now and give me a wet-willy with his hard-sausage fingers? At least Mulcair’s stubby lil meat tubes covered in spit would be slightly less terrible than hearing “Vote NDP to stop Harper and his TPP.”

There is a complete disregard for meter and rhythm necessary for the rhyme to work. “Vote NDP to stop Harper and his TPP” is clunky for the people who aren’t following this shit every day, of which there are plenty. They might accidentally remember it as “NDP for TPP.” They really should have gone for a real dumbed-down and efficient, “NDP, not TPP,” if they were serious about winning this election.

To its credit, the commercial’s first 28-seconds are well executed. But in the dying seconds it just can’t deliver the goods, like Tom Mulcair’s campaign as a whole. Hot out of the gate, but there is a bad taste when all is said and done.

With this commercial, a broke slogan. With Mulcair’s campaign as a whole, there was always that bad taste after watching him speak because you could just sense every fibre of his being was focused trying to hold back his Irish-French Canadian temper, which ultimately is why he appears so stiff and off-putting to voters. If you’re not familiar with the Irish-French Canadian  temper, let me tell ya, they are a doozy*.

*Hi Mom!

Back in August, the NDP made a real push to humanize Mulcair with this:

People on the political beat by enlarge agreed that the NDP had succeeded in getting Canadians to know Tom Mulcair. Just a hard-working, cool dude who is nice and fun and has a nice family and everything is nice. That’s not the real Tom Mulcair. The real Tom Mulcair is a firebrand.

Take his defamation battle in 2002 for example. Mulcair was, at the time, deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec. The former-lawyer’s constant haranguing of the government helped bring down PQ minister Gilles Baril for alleged influence peddling. During an instance of haranguing on a popular Quebec talk show, a person implicated in the peddling confronted Mulcair and sued him for defamation, to which, according to a Quebec Superior Court judgement, Mulcair responded: “I’m looking forward to seeing you in prison,” before using an extremely vulgar French term to describe him. Our guess is that Tom called the dude “salope”, which is French for slut. Mulcair was ordered to pay $95,000.

Rather than unleashing a daily Howard Beale-esque, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”-rant but with more expletives at NDP rallies across the country, we got this safe-as-milk nice guy with a vacant smile that he could never wear convincingly. Always too stiff. And just like any regular old stiffy you find on the street corner, Tom Mulcair always left us with a bad taste in our mouths. 

Whether it be because Tom was always in Jack Layton’s calm, friendly shadow or because they simply thought that nice guys don’t finish last–especially those that are faking being nice, double duty–, the NDP really f*cked up not gambling on angry-man candidate. After all, do his supporters not remember his path to party leadership was paved on the argument that his combative approach was just what was needed to take on the Harper Tories?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to vote for him. He is my MP, I live in his riding and I’m going to vote for Thomas Mulcair. He sent me a calendar which I use to this day. Even if I didn’t use the calendar, the gesture is so very nice that I feel obligated to vote for the guy, ya know?

It’s actually an ideal situation for Tom and his supporters, believe it or not. Mulcair can drop his cuddly act and revert to his bulldogish self as a member of Parliament, provided he doesn’t step down in the face of the stunning losses the NDP are likely to undergo on Monday. As the 3rd place bulldog, Mulcair will probably do more good as a thorn in the winning party’s side than as the country’s leader. It’s just too bad the NDP didn’t capitalize on the desire for change by playing up Mulcair’s famous temper. Would he not have inspired more Canadians with a fed-up approach? one filled with vitriol, one that he could execute without seeming super uncomfortable at all times?

Instead all we got was this weird, creepy faking nice approach and it never tasted good. Shame on you, NDP war room. You blew your chance at forming your first federal government and it’s all because you chose a marketing strategy that didn’t suit your leader’s personality. Perhaps if you understood the basic principles of rhythm and rhyme, you wouldn’t have bungled your approach. 

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