The New Democratic Party's youth wing has decided not to call on its members to replace Tom Mulcair after the NDP Leader privately addressed the group the day before the party's convention gets under way on Friday.
In a closed-door vote on Thursday that was evenly split, the Young New Democrats opted not to publicly disavow Mr. Mulcair, even after the executive issued an open letter calling for generational renewal and "a new style of leadership."
Some believe the tight vote will be emblematic of the results of the leadership review on Sunday.
"It's divided. It shows there are different opinions," said Sean English, a young delegate from Montreal.
Mr. Mulcair has refused to say how much support he thinks he needs to continue on as leader, referring only to the same "type" of number as 70 per cent put forward by outgoing party president Rebecca Blaikie. The NDP's constitution requires a result of 50 per cent plus one to remain but, historically, party leaders in Canada have only stayed on with much more support.
About 1,500 delegates from across the country, with strong regional representation expected from the western provinces and Ontario, will decide Mr. Mulcair's fate. Several hundred delegates will be attending from the five labour unions whose leaders have come out in support of Mr. Mulcair's leadership, while other riding associations across the country say their members are divided.
The convention begins on Friday with a speech from Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff, who has said Mr. Mulcair does not deserve another term as NDP Leader and predicted he will win less than 60 per cent of the vote on Sunday. Other speakers include Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath on Friday and Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley on Saturday.
The roughly 80 youth delegates attending the convention will not be voting as a block and instead will make their own decisions on the leadership issue.
"We're already [getting] an opportunity to vote in the leadership review," said Nasha Brownridge, a youth delegate from Ottawa. "To me, it doesn't make sense for the organization as a whole to take that position when we're all going to get individual votes."
Others were disappointed by the youth wing's decision not to take a stand on Mr. Mulcair's leadership.
"The last election did not go well. It's a simple fact. I don't believe that a second try would have a different result," said John Hutton, a youth delegate from Halifax.
Mr. Mulcair spoke to the group and took questions for almost an hour on topics that included decriminalizing marijuana, supporting Palestinians and opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, according to youth members in the room. The session was not open to media.
"He acknowledged their concerns about the past campaign and he vowed to work closer with them going forward," Mr. Mulcair's spokesman, George Smith, wrote in an e-mail. "He also took the opportunity to thank them for all their hard work during the campaign."
The youth wing's outgoing secretary, Stefan Avlijas, who is calling for a leadership review, said he believes Mr. Mulcair is now "seeing which way the political winds are blowing."
Still, he said, Mr. Mulcair acknowledged the concerns laid out in the organization's letter, which noted that young people were not properly consulted during the last election campaign.
"It's heartening to see that the grassroots of the party still have the power in order to be able to direct change," Mr. Avlijas said.