The New Democrats seem to be having about as poor a campaign as many said they would before the election was called. Many of these same pundits advised leader, Jack Layton, to find an excuse to delay the election. But Jack couldn’t wait. He’d worked too hard to demonize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government to allow any honourable way of doing a turnabout and supporting them.
One poll has the New Democrats with less than 15 per cent voter support—they garnered almost 18.2 per cent in the 2008 general election. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re seeing the sort of collapse in voter support that occurred in the early 1990s when that party won only nine seats with less than 10 per cent (Green Party territory) support and lost their official party status in the House of Commons.
Despite CBC’s Rosemary Barton’s valiant attempts to boost their fortunes, there is an inevitableness about the decline in support for the Dippers. To begin with, the Liberals are desperately trying to win their voters by moving ever further to the left—not at all surprising with former NDP provincial premiers Ujjal Dosanjh (British Columbia) and Bob Rae (Ontario) in senior policy-influencing positions with the Liberal Party of Canada. Then there is the tired-looking, wan Jack Layton who seems paler by the day. Without his vigour and energy, the Dippers look a sorry lot.
But perhaps it’s Jack Layton himself who should shoulder the lion’s share of blame for the NDP’s current slump. How wise is it to keep telling voters that you’re running to be prime minister when such a likelihood is so remote? Sure, anything can happen, but really, Prime Minister? Canadians won’t buy this wishful thinking and are wondering why the NDP leader believes they will. Canadians want their leaders to be realistic, not Pollyanna dreamers.
The very best scenario for Jack Layton is to obtain enough seats to keep his job as leader and hope the Liberals are able to get close enough to the Conservatives to allow him to act a king-maker. And the chance of that is not looking so good right now.