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This article was published 3/11/2011 (2058 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRIAN Topp talked about Jack Layton and how he never gave up, even at the end, during a cosy meeting with party faithful Thursday night.
"This is a leadership race nobody wanted. It wasn't in my plans for the next four years to run as leader of the party," Topp told about 40 people packed into the home of Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the former NDP cabinet minister, MP and mayoral hopeful.
Wasylycia-Leis hosted Topp on his Winnipeg stop on a campaign swing through Western Canada. She earlier endorsed the former national party president to replace Layton as head of the New Democratic Party of Canada. Topp was a close adviser to Layton and Wasylycia-Leis, who has known Topp for 30 years and believes he can lead the party into the future.
Her home was packed with Manitoba NDP stalwarts, with riding association executives from St. Boniface, West St. Paul, Wolseley and St. James and party members including school trustee Suzanne Hrynyk, former NDP cabinet minister Muriel Smith and Daniel Blaikie, the son of Bill Blaikie, the former NDP MP and provincial cabinet minister.
Topp outlined some planks in his campaign during his chat: To replace Stephen Harper's Conservatives in Ottawa; to restore sustainable energy as a weapon against climate change; and burnish Canada's tarnished environmental reputation.
He talked about the importance of supporting Occupy Edmonton protesters and earned a soft chorus of "Hear, hear" from the attentive gathering. He didn't talk about taxing the rich, a policy declaration he made recently in Ottawa.
Topp's assertion that Tory-style attack ads weren't in his political playbook in the fight to defeat Harper earned the evening's single sour note.
"That's just not factually correct," said one man, noting NDP used attack ads in the last federal election and the one before that against the Liberals to the party's advantage.
Most said Topp impressed them, but many remain undecided.
Other candidates in the crowded race are Nova Scotia MP Robert Chisholm, Toronto MP Peggy Nash, Quebec MPs Thomas Mulcair and Romeo Saganash, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen, Ottawa MP Paul Dewar and Martin Singh, a little-known Nova Scotia pharmacist.
There's also talk that Churchill MP Niki Ashton will throw her hat into the ring, but no announcement has been made.
One perceived obstacle for Topp, the front-runner, is that he lacks a warm personality. That didn't appear to be a problem Thursday evening.
"He has the personality to talk to people, which is so important in that job," Wolseley provincial riding association co-chairwoman Joanne Moffatt said. It's a warmth that doesn't come across on TV, she added.
"I'm a personal friend of Robert Chisholm so I'm keeping my mind open," said Marvin Silver, the recording secretary for the Kildonan provincial riding association. "I'm glad I attended this talk with Brian Topp. I'm very favourably impressed."