Friday, September 5, 2008

Layton takes dead aim at Harper -- ignoring Stephane Who

An interesting bit on the New Democrats' strategy today in the Star:

Jack Layton is ready to talk about all kinds of campaign issues, from affordable medication to smog, but one topic he didn't mention yesterday was Opposition Leader St├ęphane Dion.

"If you apply for a job, you don't normally talk about the other applicants," the New Democratic Party leader said yesterday, when asked why he had delivered an entire campaign-style speech without once saying the Liberal leader's name or bringing up his carbon tax.

It will be recalled, of course, that in the last election while they were crusing to their own defeat, Liberals bleated that the NDP was attacking them, not the Conservatives (imagine: criticizing a party for its record in office!). It's a line they have continued to stretch beyond its credibility ever since.

By taking dead aim at Harper, Layton is showing himself the real Harper-fighter as well as denying Liberals someone else to blame for their eventual flame-out when it comes.


Scott in Montreal said...

As a Greenie, I applaud this move on Layton's part, and I hope the NDP will push to include Elizabeth May at the televised leaders' debates because four people battering away at Harper would be a tremendous delight, and after all, the NDP does put a lot of stock in making sure women have a voice in politics.

But as someone who has watched him in action for several years now, I imagine in the end Jack will attack Dion and the Liberals as blisteringly as possible - if that's what polling data tells him is the most politically expedient thing to do. I hope that isn't the case, because another government (majority or minority) for Peevey Stevie and his imitation Tories would surely be the chance they seek to push through a far-right social agenda that should be anethema to all NDP.

If ever there was a time for progressive forces to unite (or at least cooperate against a common enemy to much of our shared beliefs and community values) that time is Election '08.

Malcolm+ said...

1. I don't know why anyone should support having Elizabeth May in the debates. Her leader, Mr. Dion, is already there to represent the Liberal Party, and I don't see why the Possum Lodge Party deserves double representation.

2. It is time for progressives to unite. They should unite behind the only progressive party in the country - the New Democratic Party.

Skinny Dipper said...

I do support the NDP challenging Harper and his Conservatives. I also do know that the NDP is still trying to take away support from the Liberals, Greens, and Bloc (and a few Conservatives).

I hope that Layton and the NDP targets their messages at groups of people who don't normally vote for the NDP in big numbers. The party needs to expand beyond its traditional support base.

Scott in Montreal said...

Malcolm, if your disrespect for others' views is in any way indicative of the atmosphere over there is Dipperville, how can you folks expect people like me to feel welcome in uniting behind you? That's the kind of attitude that closes doors and undermines what you purport to wish for.

Sean S. said...

The move to "unite" the left is not something that should be done during an election....if at all.

May should be in the debates, not because she is a female, not because the GPC has an MP, but because the GPC is a credible and funded national party.

Wheatsheaf said...

Scott in la belle ville - I can sympathize with your cynicism about Layton because I feel the same way about Elizabeth May. May has demonstrated a great propensity to attack the NDP and then sit back and claim she is above partisanship. She recognizes that the best way for the Liberals and the Greens to make head way is the elimination of the NDP. Our desire for a cleaner, progressive and more environmentally conscious future may be similar, but that does not mean that the parties are interested in working together. Thus, I am not convinced that she would be attacking Harper in the debate and not Layton.

Sean - I would still like to see the Green Party passing those barriers like electing an MP. I suspect the Greens will get that MP and get into the debate one day, but that day has yet to come.

Scott in Montreal said...

wheatsheaf, I am disappointed to hear about these attacks on the NDP from Elizabeth May. I must not have been paying close enough attention. Since you obviously were, would you please be so kind as to point out any instances of these attacks? I imagine there must be several of them out there since she has, as you say, a "great propensity" for such. I would be much obliged.

Scott in Montreal said...

(In the spirit of this site's name, I have another thing to add)

I hope this doesn't count as an attack on the NDP; especially considering how Jack's statement yesterday - the one that started this whole conversation - seems to be right in line with what May was saying back in March:

"What Mr. Dion and I have done could be something that Mr. Layton and I could talk about," May said. "Not just specific trades in different ridings, but an effort to be more collaborative so that we can figure out -- in a first-past-the-post system -- can we work together to ensure that (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper enjoys a one-term period as prime minister.

"We cannot afford more than one term of this government."

"My advice to (NDP Leader Jack) Layton which is open and really in the spirit of co-operation -- rethink the policy of constantly denigrating the Greens and acting hostile towards us."

Wheatsheaf said...

scott in belle ville,

As you have requested that the dead horse be shared, I will oblige. A simply google search of "May + NDP" turned up several relevant hits. I will only refer to a few so that I don't waste too much time here.

NDP Leader Jack Layton's opposition to a carbon tax shows he's more interested in hurting the Liberals than helping the environment, says Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

"We need to act on the climate crisis, and a carbon tax is a litmus test of whether a party is serious about it or not," May told CTV's Question Period on Sunday.

Layton's opposition to a carbon tax "is not part of the global social democratic approach," (

"I have people coming over and saying, 'I'm going to vote Green because I think the NDP is more interested in eliminating the Liberal party than in restoring to power a government that actually cares about issues I care about,'" she told CTV's Question Period on Sunday. (

“There’s something wrong with Jack Layton if he'd rather open up discussions with the Taliban than the Green Party,” mimicking a popular Conservative taunt (

"I think the NDP should rethink their strategy of being so hostile and of refusing to discuss anything with the Green Party," she said. "I am wondering if the NDP know who they are any more."

"If any party needs to fundamentally re-examine their approach, it's the NDP. It's obviously not working for them to say `We don't talk to Greens,'" May told the Toronto Star yesterday.

I hope that suffices for now. As I said, there are many more statements out there and I just select a few that popped up.

Just for the record, I think that there are many issues that the two parties can work together on. Plus, I am not saying that the NDP has taken the high road in its dealings with the Green Party. But May certainly acts more like an old fashion politician who wants to divide and conquer than someone who wants to build unity.

Blogging Horse said...

Elizabeth May isn't interested in defeating Harper, she is only interested in helping to elect Liberals.

This has been her mission since before her days in the Think Twice Coalition. David Chernushenko understood this, and that's why he's not running in this election.

What we need is a real change of Prime Minister - with Jack Layton, a leader who actually cares about democratic and environmental change.

Scott in Montreal said...

Elizabeth May isn't interested in defeating Harper, she is only interested in helping to elect Liberals.

Well, if you're a true Layton believer, I guess you can be forgiven for your delusions that the NDP - with their 18% national support - is actually poised to double that in the next 6 weeks with the same leader Canadians have gotten to know and be mostly uninspired by since 2003. Hey, don't get me wrong. I like Jack okay. But Canadians have had a good long time to kick his tires and while he's brought some real respectability to his party, he is not about to sit in the Prime Minister's chair. I wish him luck all the same. He seems earnest and he's done all he can to prepare for the role.

Thing about the GPC is we're a party of pragmatic idealists. Reread the quote I posted from May above; she wants Harper out - no question about that. And I still stand behind the conclusions I posted last New Year's Day. If you want Harper out, you simply have to count on the Libs winning - regardless of which opposition party is your preference.

And wheatsheaf: I thank you for bringing out those examples of what you characterize as attacks on the NDP from Ms. May. I wouldn't agree with you on that characterization for most of the examples.

In the end, voting strategically, riding by riding, in this dastardly "first past the post" system is a necessary evil that requires we put our country first and try to avoid giving Conservative candidates the chance to divide and conquer the progressives by winning ridings with only the support of a third of the voters.

Nice debate here, everyone. Thanks for having me.

Malcolm+ said...

I wouldn't necessarily claim to represent the atmosphere in "Dipperville." But I do have a low tolerance for phonies.

The Liberals are a right wing party, and the Greens have willingly entered into an electoral pact with that right wing party. That they claim to be progressives simply highlights their hypocrisy.

And I still fail to undestand why the Red-Green colaition should be entitled to double representation in the debates.