I’ll be brief this time, because I know every pundit and their brother will be covering this story and making this speculation. But it’s worth asking – are the NDP too dependent on Jack Layton for their success?
True, this success has been incredibly recent, and it is an exception in Canadian politics that the NDP control 103 seats in the House of Commons, not the rule. But with Layton’s recent temporary stepping down in order to focus on his own health after a new cancer was found, the questions for the future of the NDP without Jack Layton at the helm are only piling up.
I was not the only person wondering whether the recent success of the New Democrats was too dependent on Jack Layton. There was always the possibility that the ‘Orange Crush’ was really a ‘Layton Crush’ that was dependent on an older – though fiery – politician who hobbled his way through the election on a post-hip surgery cane, while his prostate cancer was in remission. Not exactly the sturdiest of foundations to base your political fortunes on.
The upside? Not only is the NDP caucus giving their most successful leader ‘all the time he needs’ to recover, but with a Conservative majority, there is little to no chance that the parties will be gearing up for an election challenge any time soon. And just in the same way this long time between elections will be beneficial for the Liberals under interim leader Bob Rae, this political stability will likely be good for Layton’s recovery, and for his interim successor’s chances of finding her stride and learning the ropes.
Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel got the nod from Layton to be his interim replacement: and although she has many years of public service under her belt, she has only three months as a sitting MP. But at 62 years old, she is at least not a life rookie, unlike many other NDP MP’s.
The other potential benefit is for the NDP to take advantage of that #jailbaitcaucus, as it was known on Twitter on election night, and begin grasping who the new generation of this party’s leaders will be. They could be looking at the new Jack Layton, and while they don’t want to give their embattled leader the bums rush, nor should they ignore the future.
Want to make sure the May 2 surge was more about political ideology than it was about the success of one mortal human? If so, then the NDP will do everything in their power to cultivate the group of rookie MP’s they have into effective Members of Parliament.
Because Jack’s biggest success would certainly be ensuring the continued success of the federal NDP in a post-Jack Layton polticial landscape.