Okanagan-Shuswap NDP stand behind new leader

Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair rises to the top to replace Jack Layton

Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair is the new leader of the federal New Democratic Party.

Okanagan-Shuswap New Democrats are rallying behind the party’s new national leader.

Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair beat strategist Brian Topp to replace the late Jack Layton as the leader of the country’s official opposition Saturday.

“He’s going to be a great leader. With the support of the new members in Quebec and Quebec supporting a federalist party, it’s a great thing,” said Nick Hodge, Okanagan-Shuswap NDP riding president.

Hodge started off supporting Niki Ashton’s leadership bid, but then moved to Nathan Cullen through preferential balloting Saturday. Once it was down to Mulcair and Topp, Hodge voted for Mulcair.

“It’s important that the leader of the opposition be in Parliament Monday. I didn’t want to wait six months for a byelection,” said Hodge of Topp not having a seat in the House of Commons.

Mark Olsen, provincial Vernon-Monashee NDP candidate, supported Mulcair right from the beginning.

“He’s the right guy to take us to the next level,” said Olsen of the NDP trying to form the federal government in 2015.

“He’s well spoke and bilingual in both official languages, which is important. He also strikes me as someone who stands up for what he believes in. He will hold (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper’s feet to the fire.”

Nikki Inouye, a former Okanagan-Shuswap NDP candidate, is urging Mulcair to continue with what she considers was Layton’s positive message.

“He has charisma and speaks very well, a good contender to take on Harper,” she said of Mulcair.

“I just hope he sticks to Tommy Douglas’s plan and doesn’t try to move our party to the centre! Positive thinking is what got the orange wave surge and the popular vote. Jack Layton’s message will prevail.”

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