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Gillian Steward is a former managing editor of the Calgary Herald. Her column appears every other week. email@example.com
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair strode into the heart of Calgary last week wearing full cowboy regalia — white hat, blue and white plaid shirt (with just a hint of orange), a huge bronze belt buckle (under a bit of a paunch), jeans and black boots.
With his beard he looked more like a grizzled range rider than Stephen Harper ever will. The Quebec MP was even pronounced the best-dressed politician at the Stampede by a keen observer of cowboy fashion.
“He seems to have nailed it with a good western outfit and he looks like he belongs, looks like he’s stepping into the role,” said Brian Guichon, owner of Riley & McCormick Western Stores. Guichon named Harper the runner-up for his outfit, which was topped by a black hat. Mayor Naheed Nenshi garnered third place. During his short visit Mulcair showed that he had much more going for him than an acute fashion sense.
He clearly had the wind in his sails as he stood on the steps of Calgary City Hall after a meeting with Nenshi and pronounced to a media scrum that “I’m convinced that whether I’m in Calgary or I’m in Toronto, Canadians agree with basic principles of sustainable development like polluter pay.”
Twangy cowboy music and the smell of horse manure wafting over from a loud Stampede shindig across the street didn’t deter him in the least. Neither did the oil company towers glinting in the sun.
No wonder. Just two days before a damning report on Enbridge Inc.’s handling of a serious pipeline rupture in 2010 in Michigan was released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. Enbridge’s response to the spill was deemed so inept that the chair of the board compared the Calgary-based company to the “Keystone Kops.”
Within hours, Mulcair declared that the report should be the “final nail in the coffin” for Enbridge’s proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway Pipeline that would carry tarry bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to the B.C. coast so it can shipped through tricky coastal waters to Asia.
Since support for both the federal and B.C. NDP is rising in public opinion polls, it would seem Mulcair’s stand is resonating with many Canadians. Although certainly not with the majority of Albertans, who stand to lose the most if the pipeline project is abandoned.
Later in the day, Mulcair attended a barbecue at a housing co-operative put on by the local NDP faithful. About 100 people applauded vigorously as he was introduced as “the next prime minister of Canada.” For these Dippers, who are used to defeat after defeat in this part of the country, it doesn’t seem like such as distant dream any more.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Toronto Star website: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1227324–ndp-leader-tom-mulcair-stands-his-ground-in-harper-s-hometown