Tom Mulcair’s public speaking puzzle

Tease the day: The NDP leader less dominant outside of Ottawa

(Jeff McIntosh/CP)

Tom Mulcair’s approach to public speaking is, at times, a puzzle. For weeks, the NDP leader had the prime minister on the ropes during Question Period. He was cold and calculated as he pelted questions across the floor, looked in control as he dissected the government’s position about who knew what, and when, with respect to the Wright-Duffy affair.

Mulcair saw no bump in any poll after his commanding performance in the House. But no one who watched—even if that crowd mostly lived in Ottawa, and mostly not anywhere else—discounted the power of the performance.

And then, a few weeks later, in the aftermath of unspeakable tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Que., Mulcair earns the ire of just about anyone within earshot. Here’s what he told CTV News after an out-of-control train plowed into Lac-Mégantic, exploded, and killed what might end up being dozens of residents.

“This tragic accident reminds us we are seeing more and more petroleum products being transported by rail, and there are attendant dangers involved in that. And, at the same time, the Conservative government is cutting transport safety in Canada.”

This morning, the National Post‘s Andrew Coyne points out that, even if Mulcair denies specifically connecting budget cuts to the rail disaster, he’s certainly implying something about the damage such cuts, if they are happening in the wrong parts of the wrong departments, can do. Even though there’s no evidence, yet, to prove any link, even implied.

People have short memories. Mulacir’s comments in Lac-Mégantic will fade in time. But if Mulcair can’t win the country’s support by dominating Question Period, he needs to find some way to do something outside of Ottawa. And so far, he hasn’t done much to challenge the ever-affable Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader whose honeymoon period just won’t end.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with railway executive Edward Burkhardt’s rocky visit to Lac-Mégantic, Que., to answer reporters’ questions about the train that plowed into the small town’s downtown core. The National Post fronts findings of an RCMP report that contradict the Supreme Court’s conclusions in a case involving a woman killing her abusive husband. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with photos of missing residents in Lac-Mégantic. The Ottawa Citizen leads with an anxious resident of a small town outside the nation’s capital, Merrickville, who lives right beside rail tracks that carry crude oil. iPolitics fronts former Quebec premier Jean Charest’s suggestion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper take control of Canada-E.U. trade talks. leads with residents of Lac-Mégantic preparing for missing residents to be declared dead. CTV News leads with Lac-Mégantic residents seeking help as they rebuild their lives. National Newswatch showcases an Epoch Times story about NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s trip to France.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. CN Rail. Two years after John Jobson collided fatally with a VIA Rail train in southwestern Ontario, CN is suing his estate for $500,000—claiming it paid for substantial repairs to tracks. 2. Extradition. Federal authorities will extradite Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, a Canadian accused of conspiring to kill Americans in his native Iraq, to the United States—where he will face trial.
3. Terror trial. Amanda Korody, one of the accused in a foiled terror plot in Victoria on Canada Day, remains without a lawyer because of complications in the legal-aid process. 4. Nuclear. The cost of refurbishing a New Brunswick nuclear power plant might reach $3.3 billion, a total that’s hundreds of millions of dollars more than was originally budgeted.
5. Abortion. An 11-year-old Chilean girl was praised by her country’s president for pledging to give birth to a child conceived while her mother’s partner raped her. 6. Myanmar. Heroin addicts in the opium-rich nation are turning to a Christian-based treatment centre that locks up new arrivals in bamboo cells, and includes Bible study and prayer.

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