One day we read that Jack Layton is boasting about the New Democrats being the party that knows how to make parliament work. His, he has claimed, is a party that can work with other parties to give Canadians legislation their need. Then his NDP party will suddenly hit a stretch where their cooperation ceases and they refuse to compromise on legislation, even that which the other three parties with diverse interests have agreed upon.
Last week, the New Democrats pulled out of an agreement on parliamentary access to Afghan detainee documents. As reported by Canada.com website:
“The NDP pulled out shortly before all-party negotiations ended with an agreement reached by the Conservative government, opposition Liberals and Bloc Quebecois on details of a process to grant MPs—aided by a panel of jurists—a chance to read thousands of documents and passages from detainee-related documents that now are censored from the public on the grounds of national security.”
House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, the man the NDP so highly praised for his judgment the other day, has ruled that he is satisfied the deal, but it’s not good enough for the socialists. Imagine that.
Today I read that Layton’s Dippers are preparing for a fall election. Apparently, Layton does not plan to even consider a Conservative agenda for the fall sitting. So much for wanting to make parliament work.
Layton seems to be pinning his party’s hopes of knocking off the Liberals on an Angus Reid poll from March, 2010 that showed that he had a 32 per cent approval rating compared to 29 per cent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and 16 per cent for the hapless Michael Ignatieff.
Back in the days of Ed Broadbent’s leadership of the NDP, several polls showed that Broadbent was the most popular party leader. Some pundits felt that the NDP could overtake John Turner’s Liberals as the official opposition to the Progressive Conservatives.
Never happened, of course: Broadbent could not translate his lead in the polls into a victory in a general election. The best the Dippers could do was win 43 seats in the 1988 federal election, then fade back into irrelevance.
I’d be surprised if the NDP returns as many members to the House in a fall election as the have now.
I’d not bet against a fall election being held, however. And it might be a case of Layton regretting what he wished for.