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Support of nikab sank NDP

NDP dropped 20 points in 48 hours after supporting niqab, Tom Mulcair says

NDP Leader says he takes responsibility for party’s third-place finish, but still wants to stay at the helm

By John Paul Tasker, CBC News Posted: Feb 13, 2016 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 13, 2016 3:37 PM ET

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he takes responsibility for the party's disappointing third-place finish in the last federal election campaign.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he takes responsibility for the party’s disappointing third-place finish in the last federal election campaign. (Christinne Muschi/Canadian Press)

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says decisions he made around TV debates and the niqab helped sink the party’s fortunes with voters.

While admitting he is partly to blame for the NDP’s third-place finish, Mulcair insists he should be leading the party into the next election, and will take that message to party members ahead of April’s leadership review.

“There were shortcomings in that campaign, and of course I take full responsibility for it,” the Montreal-area MP said in an interview with Chris Hall on CBC Radio’s The House.

“[The niqab] hurt us terribly. It was measured. I can share with you that the polling we did showed we dropped over 20 points in 48 hours here in Quebec because of the strong stand I took on the niqab,” Mulcair said.

‘Extremely cautious’

The party was riding high in the polls when former prime minister Stephen Harper called an election last August. Mulcair said a short-sighted desire to hold on to that lead made the party risk-averse.

“We were extremely cautious. We had never been at that level before heading into a campaign and didn’t know, perhaps, what to do to manage that lead,” Mulcair said. “There was a sense in the campaign team, which was ‘OK let’s hold on to what we’ve got.'”

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