The Sun has many working class readers, but Mulcair wasn’t speaking to their condition and their needs. Instead he was speaking beyond them, to Canada’s economic and political elites, in his ongoing campaign to persuade the latter that the NDP was as respectable as the other parties and would behave equally “responsibly” if it won the federal election in October. The Sun’s working class readers were mainly props for this exercise. Like every other patronizing politician, Mulcair claimed identification with them by touting his modest background and lecturing them on what purported to be working class values - “ hard work, to play by the rules and to work for – to earn – what you need to get by in life.” Then he proceeded to the heart of the matter:
"Like all middle-class families my parents made choices: what do we need? And how much of it can we afford? And I know this is the reality that most Canadians grapple with every day. Canadians expect their government, and those who want to lead it, to be guided by this same principle.”
Mulcair has been beating on this the entire campaign. In fact, he accuses the Liberals and Conservatives of not doing enough to balance the budget, and boasts that an NDP government would outdo them in practicing fiscal restraint. The Liberals have been (rhetorically) running to the NDP’s left, as they did in last year’s provincial election in Ontario, to the dismay of many party members.
If the NDP, like its predecessor, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) - with formal ties to a strong trade union base and a redistributive tax and spending program - could once be described as a reformist “workers’ party”, you’d be hard-pressed to make that case for it today.