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Star Quebec rookie to endorse Topp for NDP leader

NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp speaks to reporters in front of the Peace Tower on Sept. 23, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A prominent NDP rookie from Quebec, Alexandre Boulerice, is set to throw his support behind Brian Topp in the race to succeed Jack Layton as leader.

Mr. Boulerice has risen to the top of the class of new NDP MPs, especially among the crop of 58 rookies from Quebec, with a steady presence during Question Period as the party's critic for the Treasury Board.

Mr. Boulerice's decision to endorse Mr. Topp's leadership bid is scheduled to be unveiled at a news conference on Wednesday at 1 pm, just one day after it emerged that NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair has also decided to enter the race.

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Mr. Mulcair's supporters are arguing that he represents the party's best hope in Quebec, where the party elected 59 of its 103 MPs in the last election. Mr. Mulcair, who entered the House of Commons in 2007, is expected to officially launch his campaign in Montreal next week, with the endorsement of 15 to 30 MPs, including many Quebeckers.

But Mr. Topp has also won support in his home province of Quebec, starting off with an endorsement from MP Françoise Boivin when he launched his campaign last month.

In addition, Mr. Topp has received the backing of former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, and MPs Alain Giguère, Yvon Godin and Libby Davies.

Mr. Topp's Quebec supporters have argued that Mr. Mulcair has little growth potential outside of his home province, and that Mr. Topp, with roots across the country, has the ability to win enough ridings in English Canada to unseat the Conservatives.

Mr. Boulerice is the MP for the Montreal riding of Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, and is part of the party's nationalistic left-wing from Quebec.

A 37-year-old onetime Bloc supporter, Mr. Boulerice said during the last campaign that voters virtually never raised the issue of Quebec's place in the federation. What attracted young voters to the NDP were questions such as climate change, the war in Afghanistan and health care, he said.

"The template has gone from federalist-sovereignist to a left vs. right," said Mr. Boulerice, a former communications officer for CUPE-Quebec.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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