As the 2008 election nears its final week, Jack Layton is in uncharted territory for New Democrats: gaining support from a strong showing in the debate; holding huge energetic rallies targeted at ridings New Democrats think they can win; watching Harper’s party and leadership numbers slip below their 2006 levels; and tied with the Dion Liberals in popular support.
It’s that last point that has Liberals fretting and increasing their attacks on Layton from ridings like Churchill that Liberals are now fighting to save.
What’s most baffling are the barbs being thrown by Dion at Layton. When Layton talks about Dion, he points to the Liberal record of having kept Harper in power by abstaining on confidence votes for most of the last year. If Dion had had the courage of his convictions, Harper would have been gone long ago, along with his agenda for immigration, the economy and the environment. The differentiation is obvious: Layton is different from Harper because he would oppose him, unlike Dion.
For his part, Dion’s attacks on Layton are to say Layton’s pledge to eliminate Harper’s planned $50 billion in corporate tax cuts is a “job killer”. The differentiation is far less clear: Dion would oppose Layton’s attempt to reverse Harper’s economic policies -- thereby opposing Harper, how?.
If Dion is trying to appeal to the cente-left who like Layton’s strong leadership for the “kitchen table,” he needs a wedge. Inexplicably, the one he has chosen is to rush to the defence of Harper’s corporate tax cuts, thereby demonstrating he’s no different than the PM.