Federal NDP leadership race explainer

2010 NDP race: B.C. hosts more than one-third of the federal NDP's members – 31,456 of 95,000 Canada-wide – so this weekend is a chance for contenders to show off their plumage on the West Coast.

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Peggy Nash, 60
 
Who: Toronto's Peggy Nash – a favourite among many activists on NDP's left – is MP for Parkdale-High Park and a former president of the party. She is also NDP's finance critic.

Big issues? Equality, women's issues, foreign policy, human rights, reducing corporate influence.

Who's backing? Three-term Victoria MP and house speaker Denise Savoie; Newfoundland and Labrador NDP leader Lorraine Michael and former federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough.

Quirky or Quotable: “The countries that have truly succeeded in modern global commerce haven’t handed over all decision-making power to corporations. They’ve recognized successful development needs all stakeholders pulling in the same direction – government, business, unions, universities,” she said in a statement.
 
 
Romeo Saganash, 49

(Ed. note: Saganash dropped out of race)

Who: Saganash, MP for the northern Quebec riding of Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, is the only Indigenous person in the NDP race. A residential school survivor keenly involved in Cree politics – founding the Cree National Youth Council and being deputy Grand Chief of the Cree grand council – Saganash was a core negotiator for the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Big issues? The environment and Indigenous rights – he said he aims to “balance sustainable economic growth with our duty as stewards of the land.”

Who's backing? He is supported by First Nations leaders as well as non-Aboriginal people who hope to see Aboriginal issues reach greater prominence, particularly as reserves face the spotlight of a housing and health crisis.
 
 
Martin Singh, age unknown (either 38 or 39)
 
Who: Describing himself as a “pro-business member of the NDP,” this Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia pharmacist and businessman serves in the armed forces and also maintains an office in Surrey, B.C., where is courting supporters in the Sikh community.

Big issues?  Entrepreneurship and business, health care and a national pharmacare plan, the environment -- “and leadership itself,” he said in a statement.

Who's backing? Some more business-minded New Democrats, as well as supporters he had been building in the South Asian community.

Who doesn't? Most consider him a fringe candidate.
 
 
Brian Topp, 51
 
Who: His last name may put him at the bottom of the ballot (it would be the opposite if ballots went by first names), but Longueuil, Quebec's candidate is considered – alongside Mulcair and possibly Nash – a top contender for the leadership despite not holding a seat in Parliament. Elected NDP president in June, he co-developed the party's 2011 election platform, which saw the NDP rise to Official Opposition status. He's directed many campaigns behind the scenes – and it's the backstage where Topp had earned his high ranking among the party establishment.

Big issue?  Economic equality and increased redistribution from taxes on the wealthiest.

Who's backing? Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, former B.C. NDP Leader Carole James, former B.C. finance minister Joy MacPhail, 17 members of the B.C. provincial legislature, and 5 of B.C.'s 12 MPs -- including deputy NDP leader Libby Davies, of Vancouver.

Who doesn't?  The Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Brian Topp is proposing a radical program of huge tax hikes,” they wrote on their website. “Like colleagues in Socialist International, Topp believes the solution to the worldwide debt crisis (caused by overspending) is higher taxes.”

Quirky or Quotable: "It is time for a national government that is going to push in the other direction, that is going to commit itself seriously to building a more equal country," he said in a Tyee interview. "That includes the tax system, which has numerous reverse Robin Hood measures in it that are designed to benefit people who need help the least."

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