MONTREAL — Canadians will eventually tire of the Trudeau government's lack of substance, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Thursday as his fellow party members appeared focused on the upcoming leadership race.
"He (Trudeau) has mastered the form, but the substance is often lacking," Mulcair said outside a caucus meeting in Montreal.
"We're going to continue to hold the Liberal government to account and, little by little, people will see that on files like the environment, social issues and equality for women, there is a big difference between what they say and what they think."
NDP leader Tom Mulcair is applauded at the beginning of their caucus meeting on Sept. 14, 2016 in Montreal. (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)
Despite having averted a caucus revolt against the outgoing Mulcair on Wednesday, the party still has several challenges to overcome, including declines in poll numbers, membership and financing.
But Mulcair, whose successor will be named only in the fall of 2017, promised the NDP is ready to challenge the Liberals in the upcoming parliamentary session.
"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "And we've got a government in front of us that has to be asked the right questions. The NDP is going to be standing up to the Liberal goverment, holding them to account, and we've got a great team in there."
Top among the NDP's challenges is finding a leader who can reverse the party's slide in the polls.
"Little by little, people will see that on files like the environment, social issues and equality for women, there is a big difference between what they say and what they think."
Party members expressed hope Thursday the race would lead to renewed public interest.
Peter Julian, who is considered a possible candidate, said voters would start to pay attention once the race begins.
"We'll have profound discussions on questions that are preoccupying people, that's certain," the British Columbia MP said.
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Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who has said she's mulling a leadership bid, also believes the race will galvanize supporters.
"Once the candidates are declared there will be a mobilization, we'll have work to do on the ground across Canada," she said. "It will really increase our membership, especially with the debates. I'm really looking forward to it."
Although several MPs have expressed interest in the top job, no official candidates have been declared with the vote more than a year away.
Ontario MP Charlie Angus, whose name has also been floated as a candidate, said not to expect hopefuls to declare themselves before "November, December or January."
"It's a very, very long race," he said. "Our goal right now is the unity of the party. We're entering this parliamentary session strong and united."