Tom Mulcair's visit to Nanaimo was intended to gather public input on abolishing the Senate, but for party faithful it was a chance to rub elbows with their new leader.
The national New Democrat Party leader made Mon Petit Choux one of the last stops on his Western Canadian summer tour, themed around ridding the country of its upper house.
Mulcair spent much of the last session in the House grilling Prime Minister Stephen Harper about allegations of spending improprieties from several senators.
The scandal has focused attention on a culture of political pork barreling and waste in the Senate, but it wasn't a new message to some New Democrats who came out to see him.
Mulcair, who'd started his Island tour Thursday in Courtenay, and was en route to Duncan, also had a personal reason to stop in Nanaimo: His sister, Deb, is a professor at Vancouver Island University's main campus.
As critical as he is about the antics of senators, Mulcair is thankful for the opportunity it has provided to shine a spotlight on the problem.
"A lot of people are paying attention to the unelected, unaccountable and indictable senate," Mulcair said to the crowd, drawing a smattering of guffaws with his play on words.
In an interview, he dispelled the notion, popular with political scientists, that the Senate exists to give legislation a sober second thought, saying it has never met that requirement, "You may recall that Jack Layton had a bill to reduce greenhouse gases that was adopted by the House, but was reversed by the Senate, so for us that was a watershed moment," he said, adding for Canadians, the alleged senatorial scandals have been a another watershed moment.
"We have been looking at this carefully and saying: 'Look, there is the time to start speaking very openly about our intentions.'" Germaine Wilson said while she supports Senate abolition, she was especially interested to see the party leader.
"He's pragmatic," Wilson said. "A lot of his politics make sense."
Ken Pearce, who'd met Mulcair previously, was there "to meet Tom again, and to support the leader."
Denis McNamee welcomed Mulcair's message on the Senate.
"They're unelected, they don't represent me and we pay them a lot of money," McNamee said.
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