Years ago when Parliament was looking into Brian Mulroney's envelopes of cash from an arms dealer, I followed every minute on TV. I was most impressed by two MPs on the committee: Pat Martin and Tom Mulcair, both of the NDP. Both were particularly focused, prepared, and effective. When Mulcair became NDP party leader, I was pleased.
Now, not so much.
I have heard Mulcair tell this little joke: "NDP governments always balance the budget. There was one exception, but he turned out to be a Liberal." Hardy har har. I have heard this "joke" three times and I don't own a TV anymore, so Mulcair must have told it about a million times. It's offensive to me on several levels. One is that it's a lie that the NDP has such a great history of fiscal responsibility. Another is that his target, Bob Rae, was much more fiscally responsible than the rest of the Ontario NDP, which kept hearing Ka-ching Ka-ching and went to the mattresses to oppose any compromise on civil service payrolls. Another is that such casual condemnation of a great statesman like Rae is just icky, especially since they're former colleagues.
It's well known that Mulcair has a bad temper and can be a mean guy. We hear about how hard the NDP spin doctors are working to soften his image, even how his performance in the debate was affected by his attempts to repress his natural temperament. This should be a red flag. There is a very real chance that Mulcair will be our next prime minister, so there should be serious discussion about his character.
The last nine years have shown how much character matters in a prime minister. We have suffered through nearly a decade with a PM who is an uncaring jerk, and Harper's mean streak has been the cause of attacks on our social safety net, justice system, and other things.
I'm very much afraid that Mulcair walks the same road as Harper, character-wise. That won't result in identical policies, but could mean something like the following: we could continue to have a too-powerful, too-secretive PMO; with a power-madness that focuses too much on polls and not enough on good governance; with an inability to compromise and collaborate; that is paranoid and vindictive. I'm very afraid that Mulcair does not have the right character to be a decent prime minister of Canada.