There was a minor distraction for Mulcair in the surprise deflection from one of his members, Bruce Hyer. The Thunder Bay MP claimed he could no longer work in an environment where he was whipped into voting with the party and referenced his disagreement over the long gun registry as an example. We don't have a perfect political system, but welcome to Canadian politics Bruce.
Hyer indicated that he would likely continue voting with the NDP on many issues and believed that Mulcair would make a great Prime Minister. He also pointed out that sitting as an Independent MP gives you the freedom to think, say and vote the way you want. And most would agree that that is priceless.
While it's a refreshing rarity to be principled in politics these days, it's clear from the timing of this deflection that Hyer's departure was anything other than selfishly driven. Most saw the departure for what it was - a childish reaction for his exclusion from the Mulcair sandbox.
Having only heard the news minutes before Question Period, Muclair seemed unfazed by the loss, which depicts a new calm and collected leader with a focused mission to define the Conservatives in the next two years. In addition, losing a member now is better than the alternative of having to deal with other unwanted issues down the road when it's closer to an election.
As for the Mulcair dream team that made the cut, there were some interesting selections made to help topple the Conservatives. In an untraditional move, the NDP now has three deputy leaders including Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson and Halifax MP Megan Leslie.
A higher number of deputies reminds me of dictators who attempt to keep their party divided to avoid threats to their leadership. While three deputy leaders can be viewed as divisive in the sense that it will lead to small clusters of members lining up behind their favourite deputy, it's also advantageous for keeping the deputies on their feet and ensuring maximum potential, which means an overall solid performance for the party. Time will tell how this strategy will turn out.
Although some key senior staff have left the leaders office, Mulcair has been successful in patching up internal party differences by welcoming the vast majority of his formal leadership rivals into his inner circle.
Nathan Cullen was given house leader duties, Paul Dewar and Peggy Nash got their old critic roles back in Foreign Affairs and Finance respectively. Other big files went to the veteran MP's like Jack Harris in Defence and Olivia Chow in Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
As political strategist Robin Sears told Don Martin on CTV's Power Play last week, Mulcair has divided his members into a statesmen like government in waiting front bench and a "rat pack" members of predominantly newbie MP's to attack the government on the dirty issues.
Mulcair has also shown an elevated political game thus far by attacking the government on real substantive policy issues that count. The NDP is focused on differentiating their new brand on jobs, health care and the environment from the Conservatives. They have a couple of years to do it, but Mulcair has shown an early ability to unite the party and move forward on that front.