Anybody catch President Barack Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday night? Wow. He was eloquent, emotional, inspiring — all the things that compelled people to vote for him twice. There is no doubt that Obama has that elusive gift, that je ne sais quois, that all those seeking political office wish to have. It’s the ability to deliver a speech and have the audience leave just dying to vote for you. The ability to convey emotion, to inspire devotion. Obama has it.
So, in a quite different way, does Donald Trump. The emotion he inspires in his followers may be anger rather than hope, but there is no doubt that the faithful leave his speeches fired up and ready to vote for him.
Justin Trudeau has it to a certain extent, although he is assisted by his well-known name and his famous father, who definitely had the gift. But there were a few speeches during Justin Trudeau’s election campaign that truly inspired those who heard them.
It’s something that those seeking to lead Canada’s other two political parties in 2017 are searching for. The elusive ‘it’.
Those hoping for inspiration in the Conservative Party at least have 14 choices to listen to, and hopefully, gain inspiration from.
From an embarrassment of riches — or at least a quantity of candidates — on the Conservative side, to kind of an embarrassment of lack of riches or candidates, we have the NDP.
The NDP are also seeking a new leader this year, with the voting beginning in September. Thing is, no one has declared, at least as of Wednesday this week. Oh there are a few rumours that MPs Peter Julian (British Columbia) and Charlie Angus (Northern Ontario) are serious. Other names tossed around as potential candidates are MPs Niki Ashton (Manitoba) and Guy Caron (Quebec), and an Ontario NDP MPP, Jagmeet Singh. Now I know your overwhelming reaction to these names is ‘who?’.
Current leader Thomas Mulcair is promising that there will definitely be declared candidates very soon. Very, very soon. They are chomping at the bit to announce. Very exciting.
Ah, Thomas Mulcair. You know what he doesn’t have? ‘It’. He doesn’t have ‘it’. Never did. When they were handing out ‘it’, Thomas Mulcair was not in the lineup. Now, he was undoubtedly out doing something good — studying perhaps, or writing a really good speech on Parliamentary procedure — but he did not receive the politician’s required ‘it’.
Mulcair was elected leader of the NDP after the tragic death of Jack Layton, a man who had ‘it’ in abundance. And Layton took the NDP to official opposition status. The sky was the limit for Mulcair, although all acknowledged the battle became more difficult without the effervescent, personable Layton at the helm. We all know what happened. Instead of leading his party to form the first federal NDP government, Mulcair lost to the Trudeau juggernaut, and even to the Conservatives — who the average Canadian voter was heartily sick of. Back to third party status for the NDP.
Unable to inspire the rank and file after the election, Mulcair was shown the door.
Mulcair has many gifts. He is intelligent, logical, a master Parliamentarian. He just couldn’t sell himself to the Canadian people. At times when his job was to thrill, to inspire people to run out and get “Vote NDP” tattoos, he tended to come across as your somewhat irritated, university-professor uncle. You love the guy, you know he means well, but geez don’t let me get stuck sitting beside him at Christmas dinner.
I want to sit with crazy Aunt Mabel.
She’s got ‘it’.
Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin