K….sooooo….this is where I try to be fair and balanced. Not sure if that’s going to work out so well, because I am a dipper (nickname for
those who vote NDP). As Canada’s most visible left leaning party, they’re pretty much encapsulating what us lefties are suggesting. They want to raise corporate taxes, improve the environment, better help those in need and stand for LGBT rights like no other party does. So much so that the NDP was the first political party to sign on to the Declaration of Montreal and their MP Bill Siksay was responsible for Bill C-389, which unfortunately died after the election call. A big one for a huge segment of the population is that the NDP wants to improve the status of Aboriginals and better the relationship with Canada. Of course, this is only some of the highlights and I encourage people to check out the NDP platform here.
What was an upstart party in 1961 at the hands of Tommy Douglas (better known as the father of Universal Healthcare) has had its share of history. During the 1972-74 minority years of Trudeau the NDP worked with the government, passing some pretty progressive stuff. However when the NDP decided to work with conservatives in a vote of non-confidence in 1974, it backfired, giving Trudeau a majority government at the expense of NDP seats. The height of NDP popularity happened under leader Ed Broadbent, who was a vastly popular figure in Canada. Their record number of seats in the house sits at 43 after the 1988 election. Unfortunately for the NDP, it went on a decline after Mr. Broadbent stepped down. Thanks to infighting about various things like Western alienation and Quebec Nationalism combined with disasters in provincial politics and the creation of the Reform Party, the party lost it’s traction to the point that after the 1993 election the NDP was routed. Gaining only 9 seats, they were 3 seats short of official party status. Under Alexa McDonough, the NDP made breakthroughs in Atlantic Canada, breathing life back into the party and seeing 21 seats after 1997. Although after pissing off the CAW union for trying to move to a more centrist position and having party members cross the floor, support was falling and the seats fell to 13 by 2000. Ms. McDonough stepped down in 2002 due to family reasons.
Up for bat? Jack Layton.
Layton managed to beat long standing, and pretty popular in the NDP, MP Bill Blaikie in 2002 to become leader of the NDP, being first elected to the House of Commons in 2004. Though Layton was optimistic about gaining more seats, they only gained 19 in that election. What cost them? Many exit polls show that voters went for the Liberals to keep the new formed Conservative Party from gaining leadership. The Liberals also recruited many popular NDP members to run as Liberals to convince the left that Liberal is the only way to beat the Conservatives (a scare tactic they’re currently using, I might add). In 2005, Layton seconded Harper’s motion of non-confidence after trying to convince the Liberals to ban private healthcare and sent Canadians to the polls. The subsequent election saw the NDP’s seat count rise to 29, rising to 30 after a by-election in Outremont, marking the second time ever that the NDP won a seat in Quebec. In the 2008 election, they won 37 seats, showing that rise in popularity. They subsequently lost a seat after a by-election in Winnipeg.
During his time in Parliament, he has supported the legislation that allowed same sex marriage in Canada. In 2004 he was initially part of a plan to work with the official opposition possibly in the form of a coalition, and while “coalition” seems to be the dirty word du jour in this election, Layton has always made it abundantly clear that no matter how the chips fall, he is interested in working WITH the parties in the best interest of Canadians. In 2006, probably his most unpopular move with income trust earners was siding with Harper to change the rules on income trust, a move that the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors say cost a lot of money. He met with the Afghan president in 2006 to say that the military role in Afghanistan should be less combat, more of the peacekeeping Canada was known for. Layton also threatened a non-confidence motion if the Conservatives did not improve the Clean Air Act, a move that Harper complied with, subsequently sending the piece back to a special committee. In 2008, Layton voted in favor of letting conscientious objectors to remain in Canada should they defect, a motion put forth by his MP wife, Olivia Chow. He also counselled Harper in regards to the official apology to Residential School survivors and was subsequently thanked before the speech. He also spoke in favor of net neutrality and keeping corporations out of it.
After the 2008 election, he did propose a coalition with the Liberal party along with the support of the Bloc. However, the move was unpopular with Canadians and when Ignatieff subsequently stepped in, he couldn’t be less interested. Did I mention that Harper prorogued Parliament after this? Because he’s democratic like that. Layton attempted to send Canadians to the polls during the 2009 budget, but the move was stopped by Liberal support. This favor was returned to the Liberals later that year when the NDP abstained on a confidence motion, though some see it as a savy move since public opinion in regards to an election was not all that great.
Unfortunately Layton has been mired with health problems, first battling prostate cancer and recently going through hip surgery. He still insists that he his fit to run and be in Parliament, and judging by the latest polls, showing one hell of a massive surge, it seems that Canadians don’t mind it. In fact, his likability factor is much higher than other leaders and it seems to be showing some good favor this time around. The problem with polls and the NDP, as always, is seeing how they translate on election night. However, many factors seem to be cementing this surge into a reality.
What seems to be causing this shift? Well, this is the most advertising he has ever done in a campaign, which helps for visibility. The ads are also less of the weird attacks you’ve been seeing from the Conservatives, dealing more with facts and shit that really happened, and let’s be honest….they’re really fucking cute. Also, while the other parties are getting nastier, he’s been rolling out ads like these instead. They’re also capitalizing on what seems to be Bloc fatigue in Quebec. It seems that having an unlikeable leader in the Liberal seat is also helping. My optimistic self thinks that maybe people are just plain tired of the same old parties and since the NDP hasn’t truly had a chance to embarrass itself like the Liberals and Conservatives, well, it couldn’t hurt to try.
Though the media is trotting out a scary thought. This surge may result in a Conservative majority due to vote splitting. My highest hope is that it doesn’t happen, since other scenarios can end up being true.
Anything else you’d like to add? Hit me up in the comments, as always!