|The Denial of Niki|
Today has been an absolute horror show for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Not only did a group of Quebec activists and former MPs come out asking for "renewal" in specific terms, but current MP and past leadership contender Niki Ashton refused to back her leader when asked to by the media.
It is important not to overstate how much pull past MPs and scattered activists have, because at the end of the day the loudest voices are often not those in the majority. We have seen many grassroots grumblings against leaders before and while they're a crucial barometer, they're not necessarily a reliable one.
However, I feel its also important to not understate how bad Ashton's reluctance to endorse Mulcair is. She is a sitting member of the caucus, as well as popular, young, and generally to the left of the spectrum, and it probably is no coincidence that those groups within the NDP are likely to be the most upset with Mulcair's loss.
Ashton is also obviously ambitious and also a seasoned Member of Parliament, and knows how her actions and words (or lack thereof) will play in the media. She was reluctant to back Muclair because she wanted to send a message.
I thought before that the grassroots grumbles were a threat to Mulcair, but not one organized enough to take him down. Now I'm not so sure. Obviously Ashton believes there is enough opposition to Mulcair that the review may not go his way, and any ramifications from today's spectacle will be minimal because, frankly, the NDP leader's power is waning fast as April approaches.
Mulcair may be in real trouble. Even if he survives the review, there's no telling how long that support will stay, especially if the low polling continues as it has for the NDP.
Ashton may just be the beginning as well, keep an eye on it and watch for the sparks in Edmonton - it should be a good show.