The surprise decision to oust Leader Tom Mulcair last weekend at the federal New Democratic Party convention in Edmonton was a surprise to the leader of the Sudbury riding.
Chad Machum, president of the NDP's Sudbury federal Electoral District Association, said Monday he expected Mulcair to at least receive the support of a majority of the delegates.
"Yeah, I was fairly surprised.” Machum said. “I figured Tom would have gotten a little higher (level of support.) I thought it would have been his choice whether to stay or not."
Mulcair, after making his pitch to the convention to stay on as leader, received just 48 per cent support. Traditionally, 70 per cent is seen as the magic number for a leader to receive as a vote of confidence. Technically, anything above 50 per cent is needed to stay on.
"I figured he get somewhere around 60-65 per cent, so it would be a tough choice for him," Machum said.
In his analysis of what went wrong in the October federal election – where the NDP started strong, but finished third, well behind the Liberals and Tories – Machum said he thinks two factors are largely to blame.
The first was the pledge not to run budget deficits, hamstringing the NDP's to counter the Liberals' massive spending promises. The second factor was the niqab issue, which led to the party's support in Quebec to collapse.
"Those are the two issues that really sunk us -- it started in Quebec with the niqab and the budget issue was the other one."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took his party farther to the left of the political spectrum, leaving the NDP struggling to explain to voters why they were a better option.
"If you noticed during the election, we would come out with something in our platform, and the Liberals would come out with something similar," he said.
"We've always been left of centre. The Liberals have not. We've always been a little more left than the Liberals. I think they came from a little bit more left of centre than they normally do.
"So it wasn't so much Tom. Tom was standing up for his beliefs, as well as the party's values. I supported Tom and his decisions."
But Machum would have liked Mulcair to have campaigned with a different style, one he thinks would have connected more with Canadians.
"I would have like to have seen Tom be a little more ... like he is in the House of Commons,” he said. “He speaks with a lot of emotion -- I didn't see a lot of that out of him."
While Machum wasn't in Edmonton for the convention, seven delegates from the Sudbury NDP were there. He said Mulcair will stay on as interim leader while the party organizes a leadership convention within the next two years.
"Speaking for Sudbury, we will look at all candidates and make sure our members are informed about whoever decides to run for leader," he said. "I support our members' decision. I look forward to seeing who is going to run as candidate and that the Sudbury EDA will do their best to inform the members on upcoming events."
And for a party that just turfed its leader, Machum said the process of getting the party back on track has already begun.
"I think we did some healing, coming together as a party, at the convention," he said. “We do a leadership review every two years and we give our membership a chance to be heard. Our membership spoke and I support what the membership had to say."