MONTREAL - As the NDP tried to lay the groundwork in Quebec over the weekend for a federal election victory in 2015, some of the scuttlebutt was on another political event closer on the horizon.
Opinion polls show a tight race between President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney leading up to Tuesday's U.S. presidential election.
The favourite at a meeting of New Democrats in Montreal was more clear.
Several New Democrat MPs strongly hinted their allegiance was, not surprisingly, with the president. Some of the party's grassroots have even headed south of the border to work on his campaign.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he hopes to work with a president who shares his party's values, particularly in terms of sustainable development.
"On that issue I think Obama's position is more promising for the future," Mulcair told reporters Sunday in Montreal, the site of a Quebec NDP convention.
"If it ends up being someone else, I would do my duty and I would work with that person in the best interest of Canadians."
Others at the Montreal meeting, including NDP President Rebecca Blaikie, said they hoped for another four years for Obama.
"I just sure hope Obama wins, that's all," Blaikie said.
Blaikie said she knows NDP activists in Manitoba who crossed over to North Dakota to help with the campaign there.
Helene Laverdiere, a Montreal MP, was less forthcoming.
"I don't want to meddle in the internal affairs of another country, but let's say that my heart never went to the right of the political spectrum," she said.
"Of course, I'll be in front of my television on Tuesday."
For the most part, though, the focus at the Montreal meeting was on issues closer to home.
In a speech, Mulcair urged NDP members to raise money and help grow the party's base so that it can take down the Harper government in 2015.
Mulcair told reporters he wasn't concerned about recent opinion polls that suggested Justin Trudeau, who is running for the Liberal leadership, would steal away votes from the NDP.
"I'm quite certain of our ability to maintain our hold in Quebec," he said.
Earlier, delegates at the convention debated the idea of building a provincial NDP. While members were divided, Mulcair once again made his position clear on Sunday.
The focus should be on growing the federal party in the lead up to the next election, he said.
"If we started making that same sort of effort provincially, it would divide our forces," he said.
"Right now, we've got to remain focused on one thing — getting rid of Stephen Harper."
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