Politics
NDP to lay out policy map at weekend convention

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair

Credits: QMI AGENCY

KRISTY KIRKUP | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA - The NDP is set to carve out its policy roadmap beginning Friday in Montreal and insiders say it will etch out the party's ground game - including moves to sell leader Thomas Mulcair as likeable - in advance of the 2015 election.

About 2,000 delegates are registered to participate in the NDP's policy convention set to take place this weekend in Montreal.

The gathering is the first of its kind since the party reached historic heights in the May 2011 election and became official Opposition in the Commons. Last March, the party selected Quebec's Mulcair to take over the helm of the party following the death of the Jack Layton.

But NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie claims Mulcair has been focused on important political battles since then - including waging war against the government's omnibus budget bills - and says he hasn't had a chance to "loosen his tie" and show the lighter side of himself to Canadians.

"I've worked pretty closely with him. He is hilarious which may not be apparent when you see him in question period," said Leslie. "He is incredibly loyal ... I think it is a good opportunity to let people get to know him a bit better."

To show the lighter side, the NDP plans to show a personal video about Mulcair at the convention on Friday, which will delve into the Quebec MP's personal life as well as his professional background.

NDP national director Nathan Rotman says the video will be a mix of "fun and serious" moments and the leader will also hold a town hall session with delegates to show his "depth."

University of Toronto political scientist Nelson Wiseman says the NDP has the ability to "generate respect more than likeability" for Mulcair.

"Your objective with a guy like Mulcair is simply not to turn ... people off from his image but to get people to think you know, this guy knows what he is talking about ... he seems to be on top of his files," said Wiseman.

"You play up the strengths."

The party will also be tackling a number of policy proposals to address ideas floated by various riding associations across Canada.

Some ideas, including proposals to completely shut down the oilsands and nationalize Canada's banking system, may never hit the convention floor for a vote but reflect sentiments from the leftist base of the party.

Leslie says she welcomes healthy and "critical" discussions on issues in the party.

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