NDP MP warns against 'Stéphane Dion Syndrome'

Ottawa — The Globe and Mail

Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion speaks during an interview on Parliament Hill following Prime Minister Stephen Harper's federal election call in Ottawa Sunday, Sept. 7,2008. Canadians will vote in a federal election Tuesday Oct. 14, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

An NDP MP is warning party members to be wary of the “Stéphane Dion Syndrome.”

In an interview, Quebec rookie MP Tarik Brahmi said he is worried that the preferential ballot at the March 24 NDP leadership convention will favour the “second choice” of party members instead of “top contenders” Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp.

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Mr. Brahmi, who is endorsing Mr. Mulcair in the seven-month-long leadership race, said he is concerned that dark horses such as MPs Peggy Nash or Paul Dewar will ride up through the middle at the Toronto convention.

“I have the impression that’s where we’re heading,” the MP for Saint-Jean said, referring to widespread chatter in NDP circles.

Mr. Brahmi said the current situation reminds him of the 2006 Liberal convention, where Stéphane Dion came from behind to beat Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae. He added that at the 1995 NDP leadership convention, Alexa McDonough finished in second place on the first ballot, but still won the crown when Svend Robinson conceded victory.

Mr. Brahmi called on fellow MPs to remind NDP members to “be very careful” about their second choice on their ballots in the one-member, one-vote leadership convention.

“I’m behind Thomas Mulcair,” he said. “However, I’d prefer if the winner were Brian Topp instead of everyone’s second choice.”