Monday, October 17, 2005

The Layton Gambit

So Layton has revealed his hand.

Unfortunately, the approach is a veritable smorgasbord that will be difficult for the Liberals to meet. Worse, its lack of specifics will allow the PM to claim progress on all fronts regardless, and so accuse the NDP of opportunism in forcing a Christmas vote. The last thing we need to hear in the next election is Liberal whining about the "forced" vote that "no Canadians want". Layton should be mindful in protecting that flank.

The shrewder plan would have focused squarely on meeting benchmarks re: electoral reform. As far as Layton's party should be concerned, this is the one initiative from which all other blessings are likely to flow. As argued originally back in April when Layton set his initial price, PR (or a lesser derivative) is a popular idea that would help ensure the NDP retains a central role in Parliament in almost every subsequent election.

The NDP must not forget they have just over 6% of the seats in the current Parliament - the electorate is likely to understand if a Liberal Prime Minister balks at instituting the 4th party's entire agenda wholesale. A sounder long-term strategy must focus on how to increase NDP relevance in the House. So, consider this long list of vague demands as an opportunity missed.

On the other hand, the recruitment of former RBC Dominion chief economist and investment analyst Paul Summerville is a most welcome development. The only way to break through their current 20% glass ceiling of support is by gaining economic credibility. St. Paul's is unquestionably a tough seat to crack. But it is nice to see such a candidate in a riding that will assume a high profile when the writ is dropped. Credit where credit is due - Well done.


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