How about a little NDP trash talk?

How the contenders could spice up the leadership race

How about a little socialist trash talk?

Getty Images; CP; iStock; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Let’s get to know the men (and so far it is only men) who are running to become leader of the New Democratic Party. This is a very important job because, as the old saying goes, the winner will be a heartbeat away from being four years away from having a very slim chance of being prime minister. Also, he gets a nice house.

Romeo Saganash. I don’t know much about Romeo Saganash but I know this: Romeo Saganash is a terrific name. It sounds like a 1970s concept album by Styx or a fake boyfriend invented by an unpopular high school girl. You guys, you JUST missed seeing Romeo Saganash again! He was totally here in his Corvette and sideburns!

Nathan Cullen. The B.C. MP keeps emphasizing that he relishes his role as an underdog, which is a fancy way of saying, “Hey, everybody, look at me—I’m losing.” Cullen says his main goal is to bring climate change to the very top of the nation’s policy agenda, which is so adorable that you just want to tousle his hair and make the guy a cup of hot cocoa. Crazy kids with their dreams.

Paul Dewar. Dewar is my local MP and he is widely regarded as a very nice fellow—which is terrible news because this leadership race still has five months to go and so far has been the Merchant Ivory of political races (cue 20-minute montage of windblown heather).

We need a candidate who isn’t afraid to do a little trash-talking. Perhaps Dewar could take a lesson from the president of Liberia, who ran for re-election on the slogan of—and this is actually true—“Monkey Still Working, Let Baboon Wait Small.” There’s probably some deep cultural significance to the monkey-baboon comparison, but what’s important as far as we’re concerned is that someone was called a baboon.

Martin Singh. As I write this, the Twitter feed of Martin Singh, a Nova Scotia entrepreneur, consists of two messages: one from three weeks ago announcing the launch of his campaign, and another touting the economic vitality of professional golf. Here is a man who clearly knows how to cultivate an aura of mystery regarding what he believes and also if he exists.

Thomas Mulcair. To judge from what we’ve seen so far, the successful campaign for the top New Democratic job will need to be built on one essential principle: saying Jack Layton’s name a lot.

In the speech to launch his candidacy, Mulcair absolutely schooled his rivals—mentioning Layton by name an impressive 15 times. He also pointed to another critical attribute he would bring to the role of leader: the fact that he and his wife once had supper with Layton and Olivia Chow. It’s all there in Mulcair’s campaign slogan, “Thomas Mulcair: JACK LAYTON!”

The Quebec MP says the NDP must build on Layton’s legacy. The visuals of his campaign support this message. For instance, Layton had a moustache, whereas Mulcair has a moustache and a beard. This signals progress. Soon the party leader will be a sasquatch and then there will be no stopping them! The bottom line is this: Mulcair’s campaign is gaining momentum so quickly that it won’t be too long now until people can correctly pronounce his last name.

Brian Topp. Topp is a rarity in that he’s spent his political career being a “backroom boy” and now, all of a sudden, he’s got a pretty decent shot at becoming leader of the Opposition. It’s terrifying to consider what dark ambitions this is kindling in Guy Giorno.

Although it’s true that Topp has never served as an elected official, he has had a number of impressive achievements in his career. For instance, one time when he was working for Roy Romanow he managed to get a word in edgewise.

Most people think the race will come down to Topp versus Mulcair. To judge from the headlines, Mulcair’s strategy is to take on the party’s elite. Topp, on the other hand, is said to be courting the party’s elite. What’s important here is that some people believe the New Democrats have an “elite,” which is kind of funny in that no one involved with the NDP has ever paid more than $100 for an outfit. Ooo, lookit Bob over there—he must be a member of the party elite because those trousers are REAL corduroy.

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