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Charlie Angus enters NDP leadership race, Guy Caron expected to join Monday

NDP MP Charlie Angus takes part in an emergency debate on the suicide crisis on Aboriginal reserves, particularly in Attawapiskat in Ontario, in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Tuesday, April 12, 2016.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The race to replace Thomas Mulcair as leader of the NDP is now showing signs of life, as three current MPs are expected to be officially declared by Monday.

Returning to the scene where he first discovered live punk rock as a 15-year-old in the late 1970s, Northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus launched his campaign Sunday with a music-filled event at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern.

The five-term MP has released seven albums as lead singer of the Grievous Angels and said the punk-rock ethos continues to drive his focus on sticking up for the working class and fighting for social change.

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"We're going to tell people it is possible to vote for political change that doesn't sell out your interests to the Bay Street status quo," said Mr. Angus in an interview.

The Timmins-James Bay MP said Canadians voted for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau because they believed his promises of progressive change, but are now disappointed that's he's not delivering on promises in areas like electoral reform, the environment and First Nations.

Mr. Angus has been a regular and vocal advocate for the remote and impoverished First Nations communities in his sprawling riding, including Attawapiskat and Kashechewan. He said he decided to run because he believes he can be a genuine grassroots voice for Canadians who are cynical about politics.

"In this next election, it's going to be [about] offering people a voice that's authentic versus the image that Mr. Trudeau created," he said in an interview.

The party's former finance critic, Quebec MP Guy Caron, will officially launch his campaign on Monday. Mr. Caron and Mr. Angus join British Columbia MP Peter Julian, who until this week was the only candidate in the race.

Mr. Caron is a former labour economist who was first elected in 2011 as part of the NDP's major gains in Quebec under then-leader Jack Layton.

The party's leadership convention won't take place until the fall, which will end a prolonged period for the party without a permanent leader. Party members voted in April 2016 for a new leader after Mr. Mulcair failed to translate strong polling numbers in the early stages of the 2015 election into a better showing for the party on election night. Mr. Mulcair opted to stay on until a new leader is chosen.

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Mr. Julian, the first to announce his candidacy, has already rolled out some policy announcements but notes that it will be a long campaign.

"We'll be pacing ourselves as we go through the coming months," he said in an interview.

Mr. Julian has announced a proposal to create 250,000 units of affordable housing. He has also called for the elimination of tuition fees on postsecondary education and a transition away from fossil fuels to clear energy. He has been endorsed by four of his NDP caucus members in Quebec and says there are additional announcements of that nature to come. And he says he is already signed up hundreds of supporters, many from outside the party.

"I welcome the candidates coming forward because that's the kind of healthy debate we need," said Mr. Julian. The ideas he has put forward are not ones that unanimously embraced by his fellow New Democrats, he said "and we'll see what ideas the other candidates are defending."

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Caron declined a request for an interview ahead of his Monday announcement.

Other potential candidates who have signalled an interest in the race include NDP MP Niki Ashton and Jagmeet Singh, who is deputy leader of the Ontario NDP.

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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