11/18/2014 05:11 EST | Updated 01/17/2015 05:59 EST

Tom Mulcair brings star power to Ryan Cleary nomination meeting

It may have been the orange crush in the last federal election, but it was all about the pineapple crush Monday night in St. John's.

Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair knocked back a can of pineapple crush — a local favourite among soft drinks — while scarfing down some fish and chips with MP Ryan Cleary soon after he helped celebrate Cleary's nomination for re-election in St. John's South-Mount Pearl.

Cleary, who scored a breakthrough for the NDP in the 2011 election, will be squaring off against broadcaster Seamus O'Regan, a friend of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's, who was acclaimed for the Grit nomination this summer.

Mulcair rallied troops for Cleary's nomination meeting, which otherwise was a formality.

Mulcair said he is confident that Cleary can defeat the competition, including O'Regan, who has spent most of his working career in Toronto.

"I know Ryan Cleary, and I know Ryan Cleary lives here, is from here, has always worked here and has always fought for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," Mulcair said.

"He'll be there for them, always, and I think that's what I think people are going to be fighting for them always."

By coincidence, O’Regan was hosting a Liberal fundraiser across town, in a Q&A session with provincial Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.

The Liberals filled the $250-a-seat fundraiser at the Sheraton Hotel.

Asked why he chose to spend time in St. John's rather than at either of the ridings holding federal byelections on Monday night, Mulcair replied, "I would never deprive myself of being here with you." The federal Conservatives won both races in Yellowhead and Whitby-Oshawa.