Support Jacks up

10/08/2018 Posted by admin

by Mike Drolet

Welcome to the ‘Can’t Get No Respect Tour, Election 2011 Edition.’ Playing the role of Rodney Dangerfield, complete with crazy backflips off high diving boards, is Jack Layton. Quite a feat considering the bum hip that was supposed to knock the NDP down a few pegs.

When the election began, the Libs and Tories tried to make it a two-way race. And while Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff sparred openly, Jack Layton seemed relegated to the sideline. He kicked and screamed, but he couldn’t get in the game. So what happened? Thousands of journalists and pundits in this country are collectively scratching their heads on that one.

My theory (and a few share this one) is that Jack came back the very next day after the leaders debate. Forget the “Twitter hashtag fail” quote — it’s a fun line, but gimmicky. No, the point where Jack knocked his Liberal rival down a peg was when he called out Ignatieff on his voting record. No doubt Layton had been holding onto that one for awhile because the NDP released a slick ad the next day. Jack seemed buoyed, Iggy seemed floored.

A week later, the first polls came out showing the first signs of the NDP surge.

NDP leader Jack Layton heads to a campaign rally in Kamloops, B.C. on April 29. Photo by Andrew Vaughan, The Canadian Press.


The first few weeks of the campaign, the NDP had its problems finding its election legs. Certainly the election machine was far better oiled than it had been in the past, but there was something missing. We (the media machine following the NDP) pointed it out often — where was the energy? Where were the crowds? Only once (on the first Saturday in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) did Layton lose his temper. I asked once again about the sparse crowds and lack of energy. He barked “C’mon!!!”

What could he do to convince us, and in turn convince voters, that he was for real? That his agenda, once described by a famously surly scribe as “old time socialist crap,” was finally tailored for regular Canadians?


Story continues below


Every poll that’s come out the past two weeks has shown an increase for the NDP. First it was at the expense of the Liberals, which had us thinking Harper would cruise to a majority. Let the left split the vote, while the right cleans up. That could still happen. But another possibility has emerged in the past few days. The latest polls have showed a continued NDP surge and Liberal decline, but the Conservatives now seem to be bleeding votes as well. And they’re going to Layton. And even more remarkable is what’s happening in Quebec. The Bloc, the dominant party of the past decade La belle province, is at risk of being an also-ran. Last week in Gatineau and Montreal, Layton drew NDP record crowds. Local journalists say they hadn’t seen anything like it since the height of the Bloc’s influence.

Nobody predicted any of that — nobody. Privately, even NDP insiders admit they didn’t see this coming in their wildest dreams. So where do we go from now? Harper famously spent two years attacking Ignatieff with ad after ad trumpeting the fact he once lived outside the country. Somehow that’s turned out to be a bad thing. But while the Conservatives spent millions on Liberal bashing, they left the NDP alone. Only in the past few days has Harper and his MPs turned their sights on Layton. They’ve attacked his economic strategies and his candidates at every turn.

Even Bay street, not exactly an NDP ally, has weighed in to strike fear into the minds of voters. Vote orange, they crowed, and you’ll be sorry.


When Layton unveiled his party’s platform after week two, there were few believers who weren’t already wearing orange. The document was strangely thin, the numbers curiously vague in spots. Cap and Trade? How was that going to work? Credit card limits? Wasn’t that potentially disastrous for a country already more indebted than any other in the G20?

Layton strode to the microphone with confidence as we in the media pool sharpened our sticks. We poked holes here, disputed numbers there, but Jack didn’t flinch. There was no “c’mon” moment.

And then that famously surly scribe opined, “Jack, why do you go through with this? You’ll never be prime minister.”

Do you think he’d say the same thing today?

Mike is one of Global National’s correspondents based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @MDroletGlobalTV.

Comments are closed.