What’s the deal with Mulcair’s suit coat?

August 3, 2015

Like every other political junkie in the country, Sunday I remained glued to my laptop as the various party leaders responded to the dropped writ on a fine morning in August.

Justin Trudeau made me wait for hours. My son’s working on Burnaby North–Seymour Liberal candidate Terry Beech’s campaign so he kept me posted as to the start time. I was a bit annoyed that Justin couldn’t have gotten up earlier the way Elizabeth May of the Green Party did with her group, but the random camera shots of the podium overlooking the Vancouver shoreline in the lead-up to the speech proved quite interesting in their own right. The guy in charge of arranging the group behind the podium was a study in unobtrusive activity.

At length the candidates drifted in and climbed onto the raised stage behind the podium. Where’s Terry Beech? At last he arrived, moving to his assigned place between two slightly disgruntled ladies in red. Justin Trudeau followed immediately, shaking the hands of the front row as far as Terry, then moving to the podium.

Then JT turned on the charm and I gradually grew less disgruntled for the two-hour wait. He appeared to feed off the enthusiasm of the seventy-odd members of the entourage assembled so carefully behind him, delivered a well-balanced speech with gravitas, and exhausted the supply of questions from the press before leaving the podium.

“Liberals understand this: when the middle class does well, so does the entire country.” JT likely thinks it’s simple-minded to repeat his entire speech in both languages, but I wish he had made his comments about Mulcair’s plan for the $15 minimum wage (for federally-regulated employees) in English, as my hearing is questionable at any time, and even worse in French. I think the point is that only a small percentage of low-wage workers are in federally-regulated jobs. The rest will be left out of the NDP’s promised pay increase.

Another jab to the ribs of Thomas Mulcair came when he suggested that the NDP leader promises to carry on with Harper’s current universal child benefit package, thereby rewarding the rich. Trudeau looked directly at the camera: “I don’t know why Mr. Mulcair made the choices he did. Maybe he’s afraid of attacks. But I’ll tell you something, my friends, I’m not.”

Here’s the film Charlie shot:

Speaking of Mulcair’s ribs, the overwhelming impression I formed from the NDP leader’s solo performance on the lawn of the Museum of History this morning was to wonder why on earth Tom chose that dreadful suit coat for such an important event? The misplaced pad in the left shoulder made him look like a hunchback and the stitching around the collar was so uneven on my high definition screen that it looked like something a caricaturist would draw.

After first blaming Mrs. Mulcair for not dressing her husband better, I thought about the wardrobe choice a bit: Trudeau wore an expensive, elegant suit. Liz May looked as though she had been called away from an early session in her garden. Harper dressed like a mid-range funeral director. Tom Mulcair looked like some poor slob who had had to pack into an old suit to attend that same funeral, unfamiliar with collars and ties and tailored clothes.

Tom had dressed like a member of the Conservative base.

He even did his I-was-the-second-oldest-of-ten-children bit. Moreover, I suspect his handlers had adopted the famous Jack Layton trick of smiling whenever his cell phone vibrated, a signal from his corner to lighten up a bit. Mulcair beamed forth grins at random intervals during the speech. He further emphasized the awkward-on-a-podium impression by appearing to forget to take questions from assembled journalists. (In fairness, it turns out that Tom was late for Flora MacDonald’s funeral — the funeral that Stephen Harper refused to attend.)

If he was looking to poach votes from Harper’s turf, Mulcair may have succeeded. We’ll see if that ratty suit coat becomes the equivalent of Jack Layton’s cane. Not mentioning Flora’s funeral showed some class.

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