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With Brian Topp looking on, deputy NDP leader Libby Davies announces her endorsement of the party president's bid for the leadership in Ottawa on Sept. 30, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
With Brian Topp looking on, deputy NDP leader Libby Davies announces her endorsement of the party president's bid for the leadership in Ottawa on Sept. 30, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Davies backs Topp as Cullen enters growing NDP leadership field Add to ...

As his competitors scramble to get their own campaigns together, Brian Topp’s bid for the NDP leadership is looking harder to beat.

Veteran MP Libby Davies, who had mulled the idea of running herself, announced at Parliament’s Centre Block on Friday that she believes the former party president is the right man for the job.

Mr. Topp also has the support of at least four other MPs as well as many of the people who were the close advisers to Jack Layton as he took his party from fourth place in the Commons to Official Opposition.

“I feel very comfortable that Brian Topp understands the work that Jack has been doing,” Ms. Davies said.

“He’s been a key part of our team. He’s got great leadership qualities. He has very progressive values. He has experience across the country. And so I feel very comfortable and confident that he is the best person to lead us forward and I feel very excited about being an active part of his campaign.”

The endorsement of Ms. Davies is likely to carry a lot of clout with New Democrats. She has been an MP for 14 years and was deputy leader under Mr. Layton.

It may also undercut the candidacies of two other MPs from her home province, British Columbia, who are putting together their own campaigns.

Nathan Cullen, who represents the northern B.C. riding of Skeena–Bulkley Valley, announced Friday that he will make a bid for the party’s top job. He had said previously he would only do so if he is convinced that enough New Democrats are open to a new style of leadership.

"Make no mistake," he told reporters, "I don't just want to beat Stephen Harper. I want to beat the way he does politics.”

Peter Julian, the MP for Burnaby–New Westminster, is still contemplating his chances and trying to assemble a team.

Meanwhile, Postmedia News is reporting that a little known New Democrat from Nova Scotia named Martin Singh will announce his candidacy in Mississauga on Sunday.

With the entry fee of $15,000, it’s a big step to take for someone who does not have much name recognition. Mr. Singh is a pharmacist and reservist in the Canadian Forces who says he is “pro-business” and who currently serves as president of the party's faith and social justice commission.

His entry into the race is planned to come just before Paul Dewar, an MP from Ottawa, announces his own bid.

So far, Mr. Topp and Romeo Saganash, a former Cree leader and Northern Quebec MP, are the only declared candidates.

MPs Robert Chisholm, Peggy Nash, and Thomas Mulcair are assessing their chances. But Mr. Mulcair has said he is concerned that he would be at a disadvantage because he is from Quebec where there are few paid-up party members. He is still considered a front-runner without having yet entered the race.

Also Friday, Michael Byers, an expert in global politics at the University of British Columbia who was an adviser to Mr. Layton and ran unsuccessfully as a New Democrat, said in the Vancouver newspaper, The Tyee, that he would support Mr. Mulcair.

Mr. Byers says it was Mr. Mulcair’s environmental activism that convinced him he is the man for the job.

“There are other reasons for supporting Mulcair in the NDP leadership race, including his considerable skills as a communicator and his demonstrated ability to counter Stephen Harper,” Mr. Byers writes. “Yet for me, the choice was made clear by the vanishing Arctic sea-ice. As humanity faces the monumental challenge of climate change, we need another strong and proven environmentalist as our leader – and as Canada's next PM.”

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