Layton's big bet doesn't pay off


Globe and Mail Update

October 15, 2008 at 1:46 AM EDT

TORONTO — Several new faces will be scattered among Jack Layton's New Democrats in the House of Commons, but the big gains the party had anticipated failed to materialize on Tuesday night.

There were some demoralizing losses and a see-saw battle for Thomas Mulcair, who held the party's only seat in Quebec, which was regarded as a beachhead for the party in that province.

The bright spot for Mr. Layton was Ontario.

While Peggy Nash failed to hold off Liberal leadership contender Gerard Kennedy in Toronto's Parkdale-High Park, the New Democrats made big gains all across the North. The party picked up five seats in the region, and bumped off former Liberal cabinet minister Diane Marleau in Sudbury.

NDP Leader Jack Layton and his wife MP Olivia Chow watch returns at his election night headquarters in Toronto on Tuesday, October 14, 2008. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)


There was no orange wave across British Columbia, but a much-desired seat in Edmonton did materialize.

"We didn't quite get the gold medal in this election, but we did give it our best shot," Mr. Layton told a cheering Toronto crowd Tuesday night.

"No party has a mandate to implement an agenda without agreement from the other parties. I believe the people of Canada have called on all parties to put aside the acrimony of campaigns. ... We're going to do exactly that. We're going to go into parliament willing to work with other parties."

Across Canada, the New Democrats were up by just one additional percentage point in the popular vote in an election in which intense dissatisfaction was expressed for the leaders of the other two major national parties.

Mr. Layton said late last week that anything short of a victory would be unsatisfying.

He started nearly every speech of the five-week election campaign, including the first one, by saying that he was applying for the job of prime minister.

Even when reporters accused him of misleading Canadians when he implied that the New Democrats could pull off a victory, he would not stray from his core message.

But the gains made by the party in the election must feel like a win to some party members, even if Mr. Layton says he wanted more.

The good news for the New Democrats started early with a win in the Newfoundland riding of St. John's East. It was a seat that Mr. Layton expected his candidate, Jack Harris, to win handily — and marks the first time the party has been victorious in that province in a general election.

In the rest of Atlantic Canada, the NDP held on to the seats it had when the writ dropped, including Halifax where former party leader Alexa McDonough had stepped aside.

The NDP Leader ran a tight, well-scripted campaign, even though there were a few glitches. He lost two candidates over the issue of illegal drugs — including one who videotaped himself driving while stoned. A third was dropped for stripping naked in front of teenage girls. And a fourth quit over inappropriate comments he made online about American war resisters.

Mr. Layton himself made what appeared to be a campaign error in opposing the participation of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the leadership debates. After a huge public outcry in which he was accused of both sexism and political elitism — words that are particularly grating to a social democrat — he reversed that decision.

But that was his one small bump in an otherwise smooth campaign ride.

Mr. Layton's aim from the outset was to establish himself as a credible opponent of Stephen Harper and his Conservatives.

His first campaign stop was in Mr. Harper's own Calgary Southwest riding where he delivered a potentially unpopular message: that the development of the energy sector needed to be constrained. He even flew reporters over the Alberta tar sands area to show how it had altered the landscape.

It was a point he also made in Edmonton and in communities in Saskatchewan — places where livelihoods depend on oil and gas.

But, if what he was saying jarred voters on the Prairies, the New Democrats believed his words of hope for Canada's hard-hit manufacturing sector would have had some resonance across Southern Ontario.

Over and over he said that Mr. Harper did not care about jobs, pensions and the economy.

During the first weeks, Mr. Layton barely mentioned his Liberal opponent, Stéphane Dion. But that changed as election day approached and Mr. Layton criticized Mr. Dion for having voted with the Conservatives in Parliament, keeping Mr. Harper's government alive.

In the end, Mr. Layton said he was happy with his campaign.

"I believe that our message, that it's time for a prime minister and a government that actually stands up for working families, really got through," he told reporters Tuesday morning.

"I think that people know what the New Democrats are about, what they could expect from an NDP government. And they've opened their doors in unprecedented numbers to that possibility."

With a report from Tenille Bonoguore



Commentary by the in the Globe and Mail

on October 15, 2008

Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: The NDP increase in seats spells increasing doom for fathers at the hands of extreme feminist doctrine that Jack Layton has been part of for decades.

Gender plays a very destructive role in Canadian society. Feminists have total control over judicial appointments and Canada is swamped in a cess pool of anti-male legislation that denies children an equal right to equal parenting.
Father hating judges routinely make draconian orders that jail men simply for seeking access, or for the crime of heresy against feminist doctrine.
For every such abused man, there is a mother, a sister, an aunt, a second wife who bears the brunt of this extreme feminist agenda.
The solution is more real women who understand, believe and apply the principles of equality, equity and the Rule of Law that is entirely absent in our family courts and which our present male politicians, especially Jack Layton, lack the courage to change.