Thomas Mulcair

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

Thomas Mulcair - Canadian Federal NDP Leader
Thomas Mulcair - Canadian Federal NDP Leader. © Flickr user mattjiggins

Updated: 03/31/12

About Thomas Mulcair

A bilingual lawyer and the NDP member of parliament for the Montreal riding of Outremont, Thomas Mulcair beat out six other candidates in the 2012 leadership race to replace the dynamic Jack Layton who died the summer before. Thomas Mulcair had been a cabinet minister in the Quebec provincial Liberal government of Jean Charest, but resigned from cabinet in 2006 over a disagreement about condominiums being built in a provincial park.

In 2007 he then ran for the NDP in the federal riding of Outremont, giving the NDP a single seat in Quebec. As the NDP Quebec Lieutenant and Deputy Leader, as well as the only NDP MP, Mulcair deserves some credit for the "orange wave" which swept Quebec in the 2011 federal election, nearly wiping out the Bloc Québécois and giving the NDP 58 seats in Quebec, more than half of the party's total 102 seats, and making the NDP the Official Opposition for the first time in the party's history.

Although criticized by party stalwarts for wanting to take the party to the centre, Mulcair says what they have to do is change their messaging, listen and talk to people who share their ideas, and bring the centre to the NDP. He frequently points out that 60 percent of Canadians did not vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in the 2011 federal election. Mulcair has a clear eye on the next federal election in 2015 and his main target is Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

He is also determined to take on the NDP's western challenge - they only have three seats west of the Ontario border and east of British Columbia, including none in Saskatchewan, the birthplace of the NDP. Three topics we can expect to hear a lot about are sustainability, prosperity and economic justice.

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

2012 to present


October 24, 1954 in Ottawa, Ontario. Raised in Laval, Quebec.


Degrees in common law (LLB) and civil law (BCL) from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec



Political Affiliations


Ridings (Electoral Districts)

Federal Riding

  • Outremont (2007 to present)

Quebec Provincial Riding

  • Chomedey (1994 - 2007)

Thomas Mulcair's Early Career

After graduating from law school at McGill University in Montreal in 1977, Thomas Mulcair moved to Quebec City where he joined the legislative affairs branch of the Quebec Ministry of Justice. He then worked in legal affairs for the Conseil de la langue francaise. By 1983, he was back in Montreal working for Alliance Quebec. He opened his own private law practice in 1985 and was named reviser of the statutes of Manitoba after the Supreme Court ruling in the Manitoba reference case. From 1987 to 1993 he served as President of the Quebec Professions Board (Office des professions du Québec).

Thomas Mulcair's Career in Quebec Provincial Politics

Thomas Mulcair was first elected to the Quebec National Assembly in 1994 as a Liberal in the riding of Chomedey, in his old stomping grounds of Laval.

Re-elected in 1998, he was appointed Deputy House Leader of the Opposition, He later became justice critic and then industry critic for the Liberals.

In the 2003 Quebec provincial election the Liberals won a majority government, Re-elected for the third time, Thomas Mulcair was appointed Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks. He introduced wide-ranging legislation on sustainable development, including having the right to live in a clean environment added to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 2006, a disagreement with the Premier over plans for privatization in Mont Orford, a provincial park in the Eastern Townships, led to Mulcair refusing the offer of a different portfolio and his resignation from cabinet. He stayed on as an MNA, but said he would not run in the 2007 provincial election.

Thomas Mulcair and the New Democratic Party of Canada

By the fall of 2007, Thomas Mulcair was working on another election. This time he was running in a surprise federal by-election in the Montreal riding of OUtremont. And he was running for the NDP. He managed to win the Liberal stronghold, and became the Only NDP member of parliament from Quebec at the time. Earlier in 2007, Jack Layton had named Mulcair his Quebec Lieutenant, and after his win in Outremont also named him Co-Deputy Leader of the NDP. Mulcair himself was re-elected in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections. In the 2011 election, the groundwork in Quebec had paid off and the NDP won 58 out of 75 Quebec seats, making the NDP a truly national party.