OTTAWA - What's in a name? Would an NDP leader by any other name smell as sweet?
Apparently, Thomas Mulcair thinks so. Or is that Tom Mulcair?
The freshly minted NDP leader has raised the political art form of saying different things in different languages to new heights. He's adopted different names: Tom in English, Thomas in French.
Throughout his political career in Quebec, he was known as Thomas Mulcair, using the English pronunciation of his name.
During the seven-month marathon NDP leadership contest, all news releases, announcements, posters and other paraphernalia issued by his campaign referred to Thomas Mulcair. Supporters chanted "Thomas, Thomas," although they generally used the French pronunciation, underscoring Mulcair's bid to cast himself as the Quebec candidate.
Thomas remained the rule in the opening few days of his leadership. A news release on last month's budget, for instance, provided pithy quotes from one Thomas Mulcair — in French and in English.
But a certain schizophrenia has since set in.
A French television ad launched last week refers to Thomas Mulcair. An English ad launched this week has the leader introducing himself to Canadians with a folksy "I'm Tom Mulcair."
The party's English website now features the smiling face of the new leader with Tom Mulcair in bold letters. On the French site, it's Thomas Mulcair.
A news release issued Friday announced in English that "Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair will deliver the keynote address at the Ontario NDP convention this Sunday in Hamilton." For more information, reporters were advised to contact Graham Carpenter, "assistant to Tom Mulcair."
The French version that followed at the bottom of the same release informed that it was Thomas Mulcair who'd be giving the speech and referred to Carpenter as "adjoint de Thomas Mulcair."
Spokesman Marc-Andre Viau says its simply a matter of personal preference.
"He prefers Tom in English and he likes Thomas in French so that's basically what we're using in terms of communications," Viau says.
"I don't think we'll ever ask for a correction if you guys refer to him as Thomas in English. It's not a big issue here."
Still, it's hard to think of another political leader who's chosen to present himself or herself to Canadians by two different names — at least not at the same time.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried out a more folksy nickname for his political debut. He went by Steve Harper during his first campaign in 1988. Perhaps because he lost that campaign, he's stuck to the more formal — and apparently more politically appealing — Stephen for the rest of his political career.
Former U.S. president George W. Bush once raised eyebrows at a joint news conference with Harper, casually referring to his buddy "Steve." At the time, longtime friends said Harper has been known as Stephen — never Steve —since grade school. Apparently not even his mother dared to use the diminutive.
Lester Pearson was known universally as "Mike" to friends and family. But, for public consumption, it was Lester who became prime minister.
Here are some facts you may not have known about NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. (CP)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks</a> in Jean Charest's Liberal government in Quebec. He served in the role from 2003-2006. (CP)
Mulcair married Catherine Pinhas in 1976. She was born in France to a Turkish family of Sephardic Jewish descent. <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair has French citizenship through his marriage</a>, as do the couple's two sons. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair left Charest's Liberal government in Quebec </a>after he was offered the position of Minister of Government Services in 2006, an apparent demotion from Minister of the Environment. Mulcair has said his ouster was related to his opposition to a government plan to transfer land in the Mont Orford provincial park to condo developers. (CP)
Mulcair's great-great-grandfather on his mother's side was <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_Mercier" target="_hplink">Honoré Mercier, the ninth premier of Quebec</a>. (Public Domain/Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair was the first New Democrat to win a riding in Quebec during a federal election</a>. He held the riding of Outremont during the 2008 election after first winning the seat in a 2007 by-election. Phil Edmonston was the first New Democrat to win a seat in Quebec, but his win came in a 1990 by-election. Robert Toupin was the very first to bring a Quebec seat to the NDP, but he did it in 1986 by crossing the floor. (Alamy)
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Mulcair" target="_hplink">Mulcair's father Harry Donnelly Mulcair was Irish-Canadian</a> and his mother Jeanne French-Canadian. His father spoke to him in English and his mother in French -- explaining his fluency in both official languages. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Muclair has voted in past French elections, but says that now that he is leader of the Official Opposition <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1157191" target="_hplink">he will not take part in the upcoming French presidential vote</a>. (Thinkstock)
<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1158289--thomas-mulcair-s-wife-catherine-a-psychologist-and-political-confidante?bn=1" target="_hplink">Mulcair met his future wife at a wedding when they were both teenagers</a>. Catherine was visiting from France. They married two years later when they were both 21. (CP)
<a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/03/16/thomas-mulcair-is-mr-angry/" target="_hplink">Mulcair was given the moniker in a Maclean's headline</a>, but the new leader of the NDP has long been known for his short fuse. In 2005, he was fined $95,000 for defamatory comments he made about former PQ minister Yves Duhaime on TV. The comments included French vulgarity and an accusation that alleged influence peddling would land Duhaime in prison.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair comments on the federal budget in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Thursday March 29, 2012. If there was any doubt that Thomas Mulcair's political universe revolves around Quebec, it was dispelled by his response to Thursday's federal budget. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair addresses the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday April 5, 2012. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)