PHOTOS: NDP supporters lined up to take selfies with the man they hope will be the next prime minister of Canada. And if Thomas Mulcair wasn’t available, as below, there was always his bearded visage on the side of a bus for a selfie. Bottom: Mr. Mulcair, still smiling, as he leaves the Shaw Conference Centre.

There’s something to be said for campaigning the old-fashioned way. You know, arguing your case in front of a big crowd and persuading the people there you’re right, instead of cynically manipulating the electorate.

It seems to me that’s mainly what New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair succeeded at doing last night in Edmonton – not that there was much persuading to be done, since it was a partisan crowd of 1,500 or so that turned up at the Shaw Conference Centre, cheered lustily and mobbed the leader for selfies when the speechifying was done.

Other than the odd watchful Conservative operative lurking on the fringes, most of the people there were inclined to agree with Mr. Mulcair’s arguments long before he was escorted through the door by the traditional phalanx of Mounties and backward-walking television camera crews.

Mr. Mulcair’s speech was skillfully done, and touched however briefly on almost every point in the NDP platform. It was competently delivered with the help of a teleprompter and an eye to the boundaries of the message box. It didn’t bring a lump to my throat or a tear to my eye as Jack Layton’s did back in 2011, and it didn’t leave me stirred but not shaken like that night in May I realized Rachel Notley was going to be premier of Alberta. But so what?

After a decade of Stephen Harper as the Great Helmsman of this nation, leading us ever closer to the reef, I’m not sure emotion is what we need around here any more. Rather, what’s called for is hard noses and a flinty-eyed gaze at who is most likely to do the job of skidding the Conservatives and getting this country back on track.

I think Mr. Mulcair is up to this task, which is why I voted for him in the first place back in 2012. I like him best when his own eyes are properly flinty – which they were at least some of the time last night. He smiled a lot too, as I guess his handlers must insist.

Anyway, last night he promised to launch a national inquiry into the tragedy of missing and murdered Aboriginal women within 100 days of forming a government, put an end to the excuse making and pull our weight solving the world’s refugee crisis, re-establish an independent Canadian foreign policy and repeal Bill C-51. What’s now required is the simple recognition that these are all things we had better get on with for the sake of our country before it’s too late.

Mr. Mulcair’s “Rally for Change in Edmonton,” with the crowd warmed up by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman reminding that we’ve seen Orange Waves around here before, was the second rally for change in this town in 24 hours. On Wednesday, Justin Trudeau held a “Rally for Real Change in Edmonton,” attended 1,000 or so people. Sorry, I missed it. But that does tell you something about the zeitgeist, don’t you think?

Meanwhile, with the wheels on his electoral bus getting wobbly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has opted to hire the “Wizard of Oz,” Australian wedge-meister Lynton Crosby, to get the rickety effort pointing all its wheels in the same direction again, even if that means blood on the floor of the Conservative war room. That presumably means we’ll be seeing nothing but electoral manipulation from the Conservatives until Oct. 19.

This is not good news if you’re one of those folks who believes politics should be about information, debate and persuasion, but it was always where the Harper Conservatives were bound to end up if the polls went south on them. The message from the CPC from here on in is likely to be, “Pay no attention to that man behind the blue curtain.”

So brace yourself for things to get nasty when Mr. Crosby starts to slice up the Canadian personality pie into wedges of immigration, refugees, race and religion.

We’ll know soon enough if Canadians speak the Wizard’s language when he smiles and hands us that particular unappetizing Vegemite sandwich, or if, as the greatest American leader, Abraham Lincoln, put it, we’ll be touched by the better angels of our nature.

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  1. The British asked for help from Australia in World War One and Two. That ended badly for the Australians at Gallipoli. The Americans brought Australians to Vietnam. That did not end well either. Harper has brought in an Australian shock trooper. For some reason, I am not really scared.

  2. It seems to me we are in a position where we really don’t have choices at all. To my mind Harper is working Republican politics overtime. So; rather than wanting I have say I sure as hell don’t want him back in. Trudeau is jumping on every bandwagon he can find. Anything to fill a new clip anywhere. He has so much out there now that it is just not making any sense at all. So, I don’t want him.

    Elizabeth May is a long shot at the best of time; a wasted vote although I’m impressed by most of her ideas and releases. Another time perhaps?

    That Leaves me with Mulcair and his crew as my choice this time around.

  3. I once lived close to the neighbourhood where Mr. Mulcair and his numerous siblings grew up. It was not middle class Etobicoke or 24 Sussex. It was hard scrabble working class. I hope Mr. Mulcair has not forgotten that fact.

  4. That evening of the selfies I was at the meeting across the river, not about selfies, but seniors health care. Linda D was hosting, when she got there, and after Dr. Linda S of the CMA presented, we (shockingly) heard a dozen audience members give their views. Articulate and knowledgeable they were, too. I was thankful for the change in format and learned what a national health strategy might include. (

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