The NDP caucus is meeting in Hamilton on Saturday to discuss priorities and strategies for Parliament’s fall session, but the party’s leadership race, now in its final stage, is at the forefront of MP’s minds.
On Monday, they can start voting for one of four candidates to replace Tom Mulcair: Ontario MP Charlie Angus, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Quebec MP Guy Caron and newcomer to the federal scene, Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh.
The contenders and their fellow caucus members said they are excited the race is finally drawing to a close after months of campaigning.
Caron, who launched his campaign in February, described the contest as a “marathon,” and Angus admitted he is “so far beyond tired.”
“I sense when I talk to my colleagues they are looking forward to having a decision so that we can get a focus, because what we do in Parliament matters,” he told reporters at the Hamilton Convention Centre. “I think that a lot of people feel like we’ve been treading water since 2015 and we’ve got to get down to it.”
The four contenders will make their final pitches to members during a Leadership Showcase on Sunday, then voting begins Monday by mail and online. The results will be announced Oct.1 and if no one gets a majority of the votes, further rounds of voting will be held until there is a winner. About 124,600 members are eligible to vote.
Making plans “in pencil”
The MPs are meeting in various breakout groups Saturday afternoon, then Sunday they will have a full caucus meeting before the candidates make their speeches.
Nathan Cullen, a B.C. MP, told reporters the caucus is gathering with the understanding that plans they make this weekend for the fall session could all change depending on who is elected. That person will quickly want to put their mark on the party’s strategy and could change roles within the caucus.
“We’re drawing this plan in pencil, not felt marker,” said Cullen. “But we do need a plan going ahead.”
While the MPs tried to focus on how to attack Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government when they return to Ottawa on Monday, the candidates themselves were busy doing interviews and preparing for their speeches.
Caron said his focus on Saturday was entirely on preparing for his big moment on stage on Sunday.
“For many members this will be when…