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2011 Election

Layton looks South for change up North

I Want to Be Your Next PM

One would think that battling prostate cancer and nursing a broken hip would be enough to weaken any candidate’s enthusiasm for campaigning, let alone the sheer will needed to traverse the country from sea to sea to sea. But nothing seems to keep Layton down: and as of this writing, eight days since the election was called has seen Layton campaigning for eight straight days. While his opponents rest, the voting public can rest assured that Layton is out there, somewhere, telling people why – no joke – he wants to be your next Prime Minister.

And Layton has been paying attention South of the border as much as North. Over dinner with family last night I realized what has made Layton’s campaign so thrilling this time around, and why in one week his popularity has jumped over 3 percentage points while his opponents stagnate or inch forward.

The NDP campaign is tapping into issues that have angered up the blood south of the border (debt, civility, energy fears, health care), and is capitalizing on that same issue awareness and anger here in Canada. They are realizing that issues like oil subsidies, capping credit card interest rates, cutting back on tax cuts for large corporations, supporting better health care, and taking care of veterans are issues that resonate across the board. Left or right on the spectrum, Canadians can support better health care, and taking care of those who served their country in the military once their obligation has been fulfilled.

And in another south of the border issue that has found resonance with anyone following the zoo that is the House of Commons in question period, Layton has made a point of calling for civility, cooperation, and has dared to suggest – gasp – that a working coalition of parties may actually be good for the country. Why he is not shouting this from the rooftops is beyond me.

Slowly but surely, he is losing that Used-Car Salesman vibe that has plagued him throughout his career. In 2011, he wants to sell you a vision for a better Canada – and people seem to be listening, despite what you hear from the media in articles such as this from the Globe & Mail and this from the Vancouver Sun that both seem to suggest the Dippers should be worried about reduced rally numbers.

Like in previous elections, Jack (and I feel I can call him Jack, in a way I would never feel comfortable calling Ignatieff, Michael) is in the envious position of being able to promise the moon, because the likelihood of having to fulfill these promises is often slim. But I wonder if adding the common disclaimer that he wont win simply helps perpetuate the notion that he cannot win. And if I am honest with myself, it is unlikely that Jack will become your next Prime Minister.

But dammit if he doesn’t look the most human of all the Ottawa automatons vying to lead us. And dammit if he isn’t surprising all of us in the process.

About awreeves

Editor-in-chief at Alternatives Journal. Author of 'Overrun: Dispatches from the Asian carp Crisis'.


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