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Friday, April 22, 2005


If Jack Layton plays his cards right, the New Democrats could be in great position not just to hold the balance of power, but to get their hands on the reins. It all depends on if we can get this message across: "We're like the Liberals, but less criminally inept!" Tell me that's not exactly what Canadians want in their next government.

Layton's reaction to Martin's address last night takes the NDP on a dangerous path. The trick is to convince Canadians that the party is very much like the Liberals, but without the clinging stench of corruption. If instead the NDP is seen as interfering with the legitimate desire of voters to rid themselves of the current government, the party won't be congratulated for getting changes made to the current budget, they're going to be villified as Liberal lapdogs, and we'll join the Liberals in their fate.

And of course, none of this discounts the disadvantages for the NDP of going to the polls, as I outlined in an earlier post. If voters can be made scared enough of the Tories again, or worse, scared for the future of Canada, they might run back into the arms of the Liberals. The NDP needs to be realistic about strategic voting - don't discourage it, just remind voters that in many places in Canada, a vote for the NDP is the strategic vote, particularly if the Liberals implode. Step up and let the public know where a vote for the NDP is legitimately a vote against the Tories, or where it's the best chance of defeating a Liberal - voters will be voting against rather than voting for in record numbers this election. If we're dogmatic, and lie to voters ("Strategic voting never works"), we'll deserve what we get. And, I'll recommend again and again, Layton needs to back off his anti-Clarity position, because there's no way Canadians will accept pandering to the seperatists while the Bloc appears to be on the cusp of filling 65 seats or more in the House.

Layton could gain seats in the coming election, and it would still be a missed opportunity. Political alignment is wildly in flux. If the party misses this chance, it will only have itself to blame.

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