Jack Layton’s amazing race

How Layton turned an also-ran NDP party into an organized and aggressive operation

Jack’s amazing race

Photograph by Jessica Darmanin

Everything about Jack Layton’s rally at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre, the biggest campaign event ever staged by the NDP in Quebec, had a sort of retro flair. There was the 1925 theatre itself, with its rococo red-and-gold plaster details. There was the lead-on band, the aptly named Quebec group Tracteur Jack, which played hopped-up swing. When Layton made his grand entrance, wading through a roaring crowd of more than 1,200, jauntily wielding the wooden cane he carries after hip surgery, he leapt to the podium like a barnstorming politician of old. Now that he’s 60, that signature moustache, which once recalled the disco era, looks more like a tribute to his social-democratic forebears. Some of his applause lines have a time-honoured left-wing ring, too. “A prime minister’s job,” he declares to cheers, “is to make sure the government works for those who have elected him, and not for big corporations.”

But Layton is no throwback, and his NDP campaign surge is a product of pure 21st-century election strategy. If nobody saw it coming, that doesn’t make the party’s bounce in the polls a fluke. On the contrary, Layton’s roll suggests that what might have previously sounded like wishful thinking from NDP strategists was rooted in facts. They’ve long insisted that in the eight years since Layton became leader, he’s overhauled the party’s organization and, more recently, sharpened its electoral focus. Layton likens all that work to laying the foundation for a house. “The first thing you do is dig a hole, and that’s not very interesting,” he told Maclean’s last week. “People kept saying to me, ‘Why aren’t you making any progress, Jack?’ ”

They aren’t asking that now. Instead, the questions are all about how great a leap forward is conceivable. All the polls this week showed substantial NDP gains, and some suggested a historic watershed—the NDP possibly vaulting over the Liberals to become the official opposition, a second-place finish for the first time ever. The Conservatives, meanwhile, seemed to hover somewhere shy of the roughly 40 per cent of the popular vote that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would need to secure a majority. But it’s Layton’s surprise that has changed the game, especially his threat to Bloc Québécois dominance in Quebec. Several polls showed the NDP leading in the province, an astonishing turn of events given he went into this campaign holding just one of the 75 Quebec seats, compared to the Bloc’s 47.

Strategists in all parties were asking how that could be possible. Innovative Research Group’s Canada 20/20 panel for Maclean’s and Rogers Media was digging into the attitudes of voters over the Easter weekend of that big NDP rally in Montreal. The online survey found that Layton has not only outperformed Gilles Duceppe, he’s beating Duceppe among the Bloc leader’s own avowed supporters. Among respondents who identified most closely with the Bloc, 63 per cent said their view of Layton was more favourable than at the start of the campaign. Only 33.7 per cent of those natural Bloc backers said their impression of Duceppe had grown more favourable. “That’s just not supposed to happen,” said Greg Lyle, Innovative Research’s managing director.

Layton credits his Quebec traction to several factors, starting with his roots in the province. He was born in Montreal in 1950, grew up in Hudson, Que., and learned his relaxed, colloquial French on the streets of Montreal, partly when he was attending McGill University. He talks proudly about his family’s stereo shop on Montreal’s Ste. Catherine Street, Layton Audio, formerly Layton Bros., a piano store founded in 1887. Although he represents a riding in Toronto, where he established his political career during a long run as a flamboyant city councillor, Layton identified the NDP’s lack of Quebec MPs or organization as the party’s “biggest gap” when he became leader back in 2003.

His most visible step toward closing that gap came when Thomas Mulcair, formerly a prominent provincial Liberal cabinet minister, jumped to the NDP in 2007, soon becoming Layton’s first Quebec MP, representing the riding of Outremont, a former Liberal stronghold in Montreal. On Quebec’s unique concerns, Layton calls, rather vaguely, for somehow, someday coaxing the province into signing the Constitution. He proposes extending French-language protections to federally regulated industries. And he’s bold when it comes to Quebec symbols, appearing at a rally in Gatineau, Que., this week against a backdrop of orange NDP signs and blue Quebec flags, without a red maple leaf in sight. Beyond Layton’s appeal and Mulcair’s beachhead, though, the party’s Quebec organization remains largely untested.

And the Bloc, of course, is lashing back. Up until about a month ago, Duceppe was still referring to Layton as “my friend Jack.” No more. Layton has been recast, with Harper and Ignatieff, as part of the three-headed federalist Hydra that aims to sap Quebec of its power. Jolted by Layton’s rising popularity, and starved of a campaign narrative to incite Quebecers’ collective fury, Duceppe has steered back to Bloc roots, framing the next election as a battle between sovereignists and federalists. “That’s the price of being an NDP, Liberal or Conservative candidate in Quebec—you have to renounce being yourself,” Duceppe said in a hardline speech. “In the country of Quebec, my friends, no one will have the power to take away our powers and undo what we have built over three decades.”

The Maclean’s poll found that dedicated sovereignists are sticking with the Bloc, but soft sovereignists and federalists are switching to the NDP. Duceppe may have signalled he’s given up on luring those switchers back when he brought out former Péquiste premier Jacques Parizeau, a polarizing figure, to deliver a shot-in-the-arm speech to the party faithful in St-Lambert, a long-time Bloc stronghold now threatening to tip NDP.

If the NDP’s campaign has been strongest in Quebec, it’s been solid elsewhere, threatening to thwart Conservative aspirations for gains in British Columbia and Liberal hopes for a resurgence in Ontario. For Harper, though, Layton’s rise doesn’t necessarily demand new rhetoric. His message from the start, after all, has been that Canada needs a “stable, national, majority government” that will keep taxes low. If he wins only a third minority, he claims, the opposition parties will surely band together to defeat him and grab power in some form of coalition. Campaigning in B.C., the Prime Minister alluded wryly to the possibility of the NDP, rather than the Liberals, leading the usurpers. “Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton believe that in another minority Parliament they can work with each other and the Bloc Québécois to defeat us, even if they lose,” he said. “Of course, it’s not quite as obvious now who’s supposed to be working for whom in that little arrangement.”

That earned Harper a laugh from the Tory faithful. Having held a strong lead from the outset of the campaign, Conservatives might well feel more relaxed about the NDP’s challenge than the Liberals. The day after Layton’s landmark rally in Montreal, Michael Ignatieff fielded a raft of questions in Toronto from reporters about why his campaign seemed to be flat, and what he would do about the new challenge on his left flank. “All my candidates say they’ve never had so much enthusiasm at the base,” he said. “Money is coming in. Volunteers are coming in. It’s going very well on the ground.”

Even so, at times he showed signs of strain. When one reporter asked what mistakes he’d made in the campaign, Liberal MP Bob Rae, standing to one side of the Liberal leader, leaned across him to the microphone and quipped, “None, how’s that?” Ignatieff, quoting an old Édith Piaf song, added, “Moi, je ne regrette rien.”

The Liberal leader was in Toronto to attend last Sunday’s Khalsa Day celebrations, marking the birth of the Sikh religion. The Khalsa parade is an important event for politicians courting the Sikh vote. Ignatieff, Layton and Conservative Immigration Minister Jason Kenney were all on hand, showing off local candidates. Kenney was the first of them to address the crowd, followed by Ignatieff, Rae and others. But soon after Layton finally took the stage, it was obvious he’d connected with the crowd soaking up the sunshine at Queen’s Park. Warm, casual and even boisterous at times, he was the most relaxed speaker. At one point, the crowd broke into chants of “NDP! NDP!” “I do see a lot of orange,” Layton joked, referring to what’s both the traditional Khalsa Day and NDP colour. When things are going a politician’s way, even the colour code seems to conspire in his favour.

It’s too easy, though, to credit Layton’s campaign momentum to his ability to charm a crowd. Senior NDP officials are less likely to mention that magic than meticulous behind-the-scenes work. When Layton won the NDP leadership eight years ago, he was a brash outsider who defeated a beloved caucus veteran, Bill Blaikie, on the first ballot. The party was in terrible shape. In the 2000 election, under Alexa McDonough’s bland leadership, it won just 13 seats and a pitiful 8.5 per cent of the popular vote—a humbling fall from the peak of 43 MPs and 20 per cent of the vote that Ed Broadbent’s leadership drew in 1988. Layton began a painstaking climb, over the following three campaigns, back to the vicinity of Broadbent’s numbers.

The process wasn’t flashy, despite Layton’s instinct for publicity. He hired more professional organizers, including a full-time fundraising team. Before his first run as leader, in 2004, the NDP bought a downtown Ottawa building for its national offices, leasing out retail space to pay the cost. Under Layton, the party invested in new computer systems, adopting some used by the U.S. Democrats. The party’s sleek new campaign headquarters includes a video studio. Arguably more important than the real estate and technology, however, has been the stability in the team around Layton. Top strategist Brian Topp, campaign director Brad Lavigne, and Anne McGrath, Layton’s chief of staff, are all veterans of several campaigns fought, during the run of minority governments, in short succession.

They talk of learning from frustrating experience. In Layton’s first campaign back in 2004, for instance, the NDP increased its seat total from 13 to 19 seats—not a disaster, but not the bright new dawn he had promised. His team’s post-election analysis focused obsessively on the 10 seats they had lost by less than 1,000 votes. Those ridings became the prime targets in a much more tactical 2006 campaign, when they all went NDP. That set the stage for 2008’s run, when, according to NDP officials, their spending matched their bigger rivals for the first time. They plan to do so again in the current race. But 2011 is different: having nearly regained Broadbent’s level in 2008, this time the campaign is conceived of as a chance to build beyond that natural “social-democratic base.”

In an interview just before this contest officially began, NDP campaign director Brad Lavigne explained what’s new about the strategy now unfolding. Last fall, he said, the party decided that it would go into the next race assuming its core support, perhaps 18 per cent of voters, was solid. On that premise, the party commissioned special polling research, starting by asking voters to agree or disagree with the statement, “I would never vote for the NDP.” Those who disagreed, but weren’t yet NDP supporters, became the party’s target voters. They were numerous enough to lift its support from the high teens to at least the mid-twenties. They tended to be a bit older and a bit better off than core NDP voters, who are typically in their 20s and 30s. “They are in their 40s and 50s, and they are squeezed,” Lavigne said. “They’re simultaneously worried about their children and their aging parents.”

To pursue them, Layton’s strategists crafted a platform that includes traditional NDP preoccupations like combatting homelessness and reinstating a federal minimum wage, but goes beyond. Among the policies meant to catch the attention of those cost-conscious middle-class voters, Layton proposes to require lenders to offer a no-frills credit card with an interest rate no higher than five per cent above prime. He passes up no chance to tout his promise to reintroduce the program to subsidize energy-efficient home renovations, another obvious pitch to those target voters. Although he predictably calls for raising the tax on big corporations, he plays against the NDP stereotype by also touting a tax cut for small businesses, arguing they’re more likely to use the savings to hire more employees.

But the main thrust of the NDP campaign isn’t policy, it’s Layton’s persona. Lavigne pointed to a raft of pre-campaign polls that pegged Layton’s approval rating better than Harper’s and far higher than Ignatieff’s. In fact, the comparison with Ignatieff’s standing is more important to the NDP. They viewed Conservative support as firm, while Liberal backing was soft. To reach those winnable Liberal-leaning voters, they would need to attack Ignatieff, whose image had already taken a beating from relentless Tory attack ads. Lavigne said launching an assault on Stéphane Dion, the Liberal leader in 2008, was problematic, since the NDP base was sympathetic toward him. That isn’t the case with Ignatieff. “The door is now open for us to go after Mr. Ignatieff,” Lavigne said. “Nothing is holding us back on that front.”

Before the campaign, however, Layton was reluctant to acknowledge that plan, asserting in an interview with Maclean’s that he would make Harper and Conservative policy his only targets. That soon proved to be disingenuous. In the pivotal English-language leaders’ debate, Layton rounded on Ignatieff for arguably the most stinging exchange of the night, slamming the Liberal leader for failing to attend more than 70 per cent of votes in the House. “You know,” Layton said, “most Canadians, if they don’t show up for work, they don’t get a promotion.” Incredibly, Ignatieff failed to fire back that he had spent a great deal of time on the road holding town-hall type events. So much for advance predictions that the debate dynamic would feature mainly the opposition leaders ganging up on Harper.

As Layton entered the stretch run in an improbably strong position, he was bound to become the target of partisan assaults and the subject of media scrutiny. Ignatieff adopted a tone of derision, suggesting Layton lacks realism. He cited the NDP’s call for pulling Canadian troops entirely out of Afghanistan this summer, instead of leaving some to work on training Afghan forces, as naive. “Come on, folks, let’s be serious,” Ignatieff said in Vancouver. “We’ve got to choose a government on May 2. We can’t choose a bunch of Boy Scouts on this issue.” Ignatieff also unleashed two of his most prominent MPs, Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario, and Ujjal Dosanjh, the former NDP premier of B.C., to issue a special plea for straying left-of-centre voters to return to the fold.

Layton’s platform, which went largely uncriticized for the first month of the campaign, was suddenly getting a much closer reading. To pay for nearly $9 billion in new spending this year, the NDP proposes to collect an extra $5.9 billion by boosting the corporate tax rate. An eye-popping $3.6 billion more is supposed to come from selling carbon credits as part of an ambitious cap and trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pressed on whether that money is likely to flow in so fast, Layton admitted “it would be tough,” although he said it was possible with “real determination.”

On the $1 billion in new revenue this year his platform projects will come from a crackdown on offshore tax avoidance—a windfall the NDP says will climb to $3.2 billion in four years—Layton suggested the Canada Revenue Agency might not be trying very hard to catch those tax cheats. “Well, you’re dealing with the rich and powerful, and maybe that’s an issue,” he said. “That’s not an issue for me.” A senior Liberal said more questions about NDP costing will be raised in the campaign’s final days, as Ignatieff strives to position himself as offering NDP-style compassion, but with more fiscal discipline.

Beyond how he’d pay for his promises, Layton’s positions on Quebec were also raising eyebrows. He says he’s for finding a way for Quebec to sign the Constitution, but suggests incremental steps, not a plunge back into Mulroney-style constitutional negotiations. He calls for amending the Canada Labour Code, which applies to federally regulated sectors like interprovincial transportation, banking and telecommunications, to guarantee the right to work in French in those industries. But Layton denied that would mean Ottawa effectively legislating against the use of English. “That’s not what it’s about,” he said, describing the proposed law’s aim as “ensuring the rights of a French-speaking person to be able to work in that language.”

To hear Layton on the defensive is almost as novel as it is to see him riding such a powerful updraft in the polls. He built the machine and formulated the strategy to get his NDP airborne without his adversaries so much as casting a worried glance his way. Seven years of steady election gains, stable party management, unchallenged leadership and stellar personal approval ratings—all but unacknowledged. But those days are over. Layton is where he’s longed to be—in the thick of things—and now he’ll have to show that he can stay there.

The Canada 20/20 Panel results are drawn from 1,543 randomly selected responses to Innovative Research Group’s nationwide online survey. Responses were from April 21-25; the Canadian margin of error is plus or minus 2.49 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, larger for provincial sub-groupings.




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Jack Layton’s amazing race

  1. The NDP's budget has a Cap and Trade Carbon Tax that will devastate Canada's economy.

    Jack Layton has refused to take any serious questions about it.

    The NDP candidates know nothing about it. Some of them are still off on vacation in Mexico and Los Vegas, hoping to come back to a cushy government job.

    Lets face it. The NDP is a fuzzy feel good party with no real concept of managing money or an economy.

    NDP'ers they want to have their cake, and eat yours too.

    • Do you even understand what a Cap and Trade system is. Its obvious that you don't, if you think it will devastate the economy. I see you're still trying to complete grade 6.

    • The Conservatives will spend-or plan to spend-billions on striker jets that have no place in Canada's foreign policy. The corporate tax reductions will also take billions out of available revenue. And how pray tell do you start to reduce our global warming contribution without taxing carbon? Talk about cake.

    • Do yourself a favor and vote a minority NDP gov't if you are afraid they will damage our economy. As a minority they will be under the scrutiny of the other members of parliament and will be better listeners than the CONS were. A major change is needed and this is it.

    • Thank you for your reply even though it is sarcasm. It means that I have been able to grab your attention and warrent your responce to my posts. I believe you truly love Canada and that you are speaking from your heart. I also believe you are wrong and that is my right as a Canadian to believe that. It is what makes Canada , Canada! However, our country must be saved from your tyrant leader and you too must be rid of his controlling ideology. On May 2nd vote for Canada, vote ABC.
      Much Love,
      Proud Canadian

  2. Online MP expenses repots Layton AND HIS WIFE blew almost $1.2 million while Harper racked up just over $300,000. Surely a sign of things to come I guess the other parasites don't care as long as they get their time at the trough. Are the 'hosts' ever going to get outraged. If this doesn't do it, nothing will. Wake up Canada before yourcountry is gone–god good.

      • I'm generally not fond of outside interference in Canadian elections, but I must say that Nader raises some interesting points. Thanks for posting the link!

    • What a nonsensical comparison Roy.

      Do those expense reports include the cost of Sussex Drive? Security? The Challenger jet that gets gassed up to fly across the country every time there's a million dollar announcement to make?

    • That is because Harper relies on the stupidity of voters like you, to misinterpret the report.

      If you actually do the math properly you would know that both conservatives and NDP on average claim about 480K per MP. However, Harper runs the Conservative party like a Stalinist dictator. He hides his spending under the other MPs. For example, according to his balance sheet (available online) he has 0 staff. His spending is the lowest within the conservative party for this very reason. That is obviously faudulent. A party leader's spending should be the highest in the party, given their responsibilities. Yet Harper is the LOWEST! If you for example, see the highest claim in Parliament, you will notice that it is conservative MP Steven Fletcher at an incredible $840K in claims (much of which is actually Harper's claims hidden under Fletcher).

      Layton on the other hand acts like a party leader should. He submits his own costs under his own name, rather than trying to deceive the taxpayers. It is unfortunate that people like you are so easily deceived.

      In the end, the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP spend the same average amount of 480K per MP.

      • Paul, can you prove your accusations? Last I checked, Steven was in a WHEELCHAIR. He probably needs more staff, and has to pay more for traveling, etc.

        Next time research before you post, trying to smear someone's name.

        • "Do those expense reports include the cost of Sussex Drive? Security? The Challenger jet that gets gassed up to fly across the country every time there's a million dollar announcement to make?" – the other fred.

          • I was replying to Paul's claim that a wheelchair bound MP was hiding expenses for Harper. How does your reiterating the first Fred change my comment? Can you not see how out of line Paul was?

            But as to the Sussex Drive, etc – those are the expenses of the Prime Minister. Harper also has expenses as an MP, which apparently are lower.

            If the average is $480,000, how can we trust someone who spends so much more than the average, to balance the books?

    • Harper's expenses are buried in the PMO. As well, are you forgetting that he gets free housing?

  3. How can any serious conservative vote for Harper? He is blasting NDP for what he claims is a $10 billion/year in spending. But one of his first acts in office was to introduce a $100 billion/year military budget, locked for 10 years. That is not counting the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Libya. The Fighter-Jet scam is just a small part of this giant budget.

    Get real folks. Harper has been a disaster for the economy. The only reason we did not dive head first into the recession and climbed out relatively easily was because unlike places like the US, Greenland, or Ireland, we did not deregulate our banking sector, something HARPER SUPPORTED, but could not push through because of the opposition.

    Harper has also spent millions on election ads, without getting anything useful out of them. NDP has done most of its ads, cheap, online, and they have been very effective. An NDP government would be FAR better for the economy then another incompetent ideological money-wasting Harper economy.

    • You got it right on Paul. I would love to vote for you. The G 20 Summit alone is enough reason to give Harper the boot.

    • 100 billion a year? If you are going to make up numbers, why not at least shoot for vaguely realistic ones.

  4. It's amazing how far you can go when you face virtually zero scrutiny. Apparently Jack's going to hire 2,500 new doctors!! I guess he's just going to go down to the unemployment office and snap up all those down and out physicians looking for a hand up. I have heard that part of his big plan is to 'bring back doctors to Canada who have left'. Riiiiiiiiiiight, cause if you're a doc ensconsed in San Diego, Tampa, or Boston you're just waiting for Jack's clarion call to come back to work long hours in Estevan and Timmons….

    • If anyone actually read the NDP platform, as well as the 'costing' document, they couldn't vote for him. Not saying that they would vote for another, but they certainly couldn't vote for him.

      But this is politics, and people don't read – they watch the T.V. and listen to the radio. They won't even understand the platform until after the election.

    • Hate to disappoint you, but your figure is complete nonsense. The real number is 1,200 doctors, and it was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Medical Association – you know, those guys who actually represent most Canadian doctors? Give it up. Your desperation is showing.

  5. Wonder how self-important wackos like Coyne are going to respond to Layton's surge.

    Years of mockery from the clowns in the mainstream media.

    This election once again proves that the majority of hacks in Canada haven't a clue what they are talking about most of the time.

  6. Jacko's really pandering to the sovereignists. From Taliban Jack to Lyin' Layton.

    "He calls for amending the Canada Labour Code, which applies to federally regulated sectors like interprovincial transportation, banking and telecommunications, to guarantee the right to work in French in those industries."

    "This week Layton was asked on a Quebec radio phone-in show whether he would accept the result of a Quebec sovereignty referendum, and his response was a flat, unqualified yes. The appropriate answer from a responsible federal leader would have been yes, provided the referendum has been carried out in accordance with the federal Clarity Act"
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/opinion/close+sedu

    • So? What is exactly wrong with a Federal employee working in frankaphone Quebec having the right to speak French at work? I would love to hear an explanation as to why conservatives are opposing this.

      If you are a federal employee working in an area where most of your customers/clients are French, why shouldn't you speak French? Why should you be FORCED by Harperites to speak English?

      • This has nothing to do with Federal employees – sheesh!!! Interprovincial federally regulated sectors. Nobody is forcing them to speak English.

        • What is wrong with someone who speaks French having the right to speak French at work?

      • It sounds good on paper – but could be a costly nightmare for the employer. Especially if the wording does not limit the right to Quebec and predominantly French-speaking regions. Can you imagine hiring someone to work the phones in, say, Manitoba, because the person has bilingual abilities and then that person insists on speaking only French? And then not being able to fire or reprimand the employee because of his or her right to work in French?

        Yes, it sounds like a bad skit on a comedy show – but if the language is not carefully crafted, absurdities like this could happen.

        I'm not saying I'm against the change; just that I have my doubts it can be easily implemented. I'll withold final judgment until I can see the actual language of the bill.

      • The same right that an English speaking worker in Quebec among English speaking co – workers should have but dont.

    • How did he get the nickname "Taliban Jack"? Do you remember?

      As I recall, he got it for having the temerity to suggest that in order to make progress in Afghanistan we were going to have to start talking with the Taliban, whether we liked it or not.

      And what are we doing now?

      How many years of potential groundwork were lost because Conservatives preferred to come up with cute nicknames instead of listening to the substance of what Layton was saying on that issue, only to end up coming to the same conclusion anyway?

    • It doesn't matter whether old Jacky boy would accept the referendum, the supreme court ruled in 1998 that all ten provinces would have to say yes for Quebec to separate.

      That's right Jack go appease the separatists, because we all know it can't work!

  7. Why should only Greece (and the rest of the EU for that matter) have the fun of bankruptcy, unsustainable social programs and tax rates that drive away investment and jobs??

    • Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria… all social democrat mixed economies.

  8. Mr. Harper's strategy of changing his opinion about most issues that matter to Canadians is what has hurt him the most. 

Here are several of the issues that he has changed his opinion on since entering the political arena:



    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2011/04/more

    For a change, it would be nice to have just a modicum of consistency so that we actually know what we are voting for (or against)!

    • Link isn't working…

    • Are you telling me that you have never changed your mind if conditions changed.

      • Are you telling us that you think that's the topic here?

  9. We hear so much that 'going green' will devastate the economy. Has no one thought that without a clean environment, there will BE no economy!

    • Better yet – going green will, in the long run reduce energy consumption (a $$$ advantage) and allow the development of clean technology that can then be sold elsewhere (innovation being a key driver of economies). So, even if you don't give a rat's a$$ about the health of the environment, it's an investment in the nation's longer-term economic health.

      • Where can I get some of the stuff you're smokin.

        • It's called clean living and independent thinking. I don't swallow talking points.

          Now that we're done exchanging snide comments, do you have anything of substance to refute my argument?

  10. As a wise woman once said:

    "Socialism only works until you run out of other peoples' money"

    • The least socialist advanced country (at least in terms of protection of human rights, access to social programs, national co-ordination between labour and business) – the USA – is "running out of other peoples' money" faster than anybody else.

      • Sorry Horace, the USA is in far more trouble now that they have OBAMA…who is a socialist, with socialist policies. His financial record has led the USA to a defict 10 times larger than George Bush even managed.

        • 1) Obama is left-wing compared to US right-wingers, but not compared to Harper.

          2) Most of the deficit is due to policies put in place by Republicans, and trying to cope with the impact of those decisions (you know, the economic mess he inherited from Dubya). Complicit in this is the refusal of the Republican-dominated Congress and Senate to pass any meaningful changes.

          It's nowhere near as simple as left=disaster or Obama=disaster. As should be evident from the "birther" obsession that right-wing politicians and pundits alike seem to think is more important than, say, running the country…

          • Why dont you read what you write.
            You are doing the same thing in reverse.
            You are saying conservatives=disaster or Harper=disaster.

          • You mean here, or generally? If you mean in the above comment, I guess someone should warn you about the brown acid [for other readers: in another reply Jen asked me what I was smoking].

            Yes, I do think a Harper-led CPC government would be bad for Canada. For one thing, he has shown a predilection for US-style policies, despite how bad those have proven to be for the US. He has shown a definite inability to foresee what's coming (in 2008, the CPC was denying the world was headed for a recession long after everyone else were saying it was happening – and that it would be a bad one). He has cast doubts on foreign investment policies with Clement's "Potash Surprise!" recipe for disaster. Etc.

          • Pt 2:

            Aside from questionable fiscal abilities, there's his little problem with the truth. There's his inability to exit from hyper-partisan mode and to govern for the good of the country rather than simply to score partisan points. There's the tin-pot dictator urge to rename the government after himself. There's his absolute lack of respect for our parliamentary system of government (and thereby, indirectly, for the people of Canada). There's his tendency to surround himself with people who have a penchant for breaking the law. And all this while leading a minority government. What would he do if freed of the fetters of an opposition with teeth?

            I don't necessarily disagree with many CPC policies; I just don't trust Harper to follow through on his promises. Put someone else in charge, and I'd be far more open to a CPC majority government.

        • Can you please explain how Obama's policies are socialist?

          Obama-care is modelled on healthcare reform proposed by the Republicans in the 1990s in response to public-option "Hillary-care," and Nixon's proposed reforms from before then. Forcing individuals into purchasing private insurance is not socialist policy. A universal single-payer Medicare-for-all system preferred by the majority of Americans would be.

          Obama has failed to intervene on the on-going mortgage-foreclosure crisis. He "compromised" with the Republican congress to extend the Bush tax cuts to the top 0.1% indefinitely. He has failed to reform the financial sector or establish criminal investigations into the fraudulent practices that lead to it. I just do not see anything progressive about him or his policies.

          • Obama's policies are socialist because he isn't a Republican, and for some people that kind of insane binary conclusion represents the only way they are capable of interpreting the world around them.

    • Yet the richest industrialized country in the world (on a per capita basis) is socialist Norway.

      Why is it that right-wing rhetoric never matches the real world?

      • I am wondering if you are basing that on GDP per capita, because in that case Norway actually ranks 5th among all countries in the world.(CIA World Factbook)

    • That 'wise woman' was Maggie Thatcher. Hardly a heroine. Just ask the Brits.

  11. Unfortunately, most people believe that politicians lie. If Jack Layton somehow becomes Prime Minister we'd better pray that, in light of all the absurd promises he has made, Jack turns out to be the biggest liar of a politician we have ever seen.

    Look south to see the economic results of a grinning, "hopey changey" socialist getting his hands on the wheel.

    • Get real. Obama is a centrist-conservative. The healthcare plan was identical to Republican proposals from the 1990s and Richard Nixon's earlier proposed plan. He has intensified the wars in Central Asia (and now Libya). He allowed the Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts indefinitely. He has failed to eviscerate the bloated unproductive financial sector and the criminals behind the crisis who are leading the US (and in extension Canada) into debt-induced deflation and Depression.

      • If this is what you think, I would suggest you stop reading and watching the MSM, and do some real research so you can determine exactly what is happening in the US.

        • If you are accusing me of not being factual than please tell me what you disagree with in the above statement.

          • Well, this is a message board, so Jenahlin unfortunately can't forward you the chain email that explains how Obama is a Muslim from Kenya, accompanied by a photoshop of his face on a monkey's body.

    • A massive improvement in their health care coverage that also reduces the long-run deficit?

    • I just wonder if all these people decrying "Socalists" realize that our health care system is a socialist system. Do you want us to get rid of that? Would you prefer to buy your health insurance from companies that overcharge you for poorer service in order to line the pockets of their shareholders…and then cut you off at the first sign of illness so you can pay for the next thirty grand's worth of cancer treatment yourself? For all the complaints about how government runs systems, one thing's for sure: they have huge opportunities to bring costs down by taking advantage of economies of scale and they don't generate surpluses just to hand them over to wealthy — often foreign – private citizens. It never fails to amaze me how hard some people will fight for the "right" to get a**f*cked by corporations.

  12. Very informative. Jack's 'rise' is because of careful strategic planning, his poise and his history in Quebec.
    But most of all, there is a huge quantity of Liberal voters who cannot believe Michael Ignatieff was ever voted party leader.
    Harper was never really an option, so who was left? (pun intended).
    Nice article. Thanks

    • Well Said!

    • Totally agree. There is no option!!

  13. We don't need to read the party platforms and try to cost out programs to make a decision this election. All we need to do is compare TV ads. Ask yourself do I want a leader who would endorse these ads? Do I want the kind of Canada represented by this kind of advertising? It is not hard to see why the NDP is rising about the herd.

  14. You gotta love these idiotic right-wing comments. It is just incredible!

    When the government spends billions for useless fighter jets + wars + corporate pork + G20 "security", these "conservatives" are silent. When the government gives $5.00 to feed an orphan they just lose their mind in rage. Their priorities are completely screwed.

    Note to conservatives. We are not "taking" anything from the corporations and the rich. They are paying for the roads, bridges, laws, protections, electricity, natural resources, environment, etc which they use to make money.

    Why should we have to pay welfare to the rich? Why should we go into war so that they can sign uncompetitive multi-billion dollar contracts with bought conservative crony MPs? Next time they want a war, let's ship their kids on the front lines right into enemy fire.

    • So instead of new fighter jets what do you propose we give the military when the CF18 hornets from the late 1970's die?

      Slingshots and smooth stones.

      • The Super Hornet is a much better choice.

  15. My my but hasn't this brought out all the right wing reactionaries? Better spend the billions on jets and prisons I suppose. Strange priorities if you ask me. Perhaps a nice vacation to the US….and stay there.

  16. Mike, if all the conservatives went to the USA and stayed there….

    who would be left to pay your way?

    Didn't think of that did you?

    • What makes you think the USA would let them in?

      • The same magical thinking that makes them believe it when the elite from the right's power structure tell them someday they can be rich too, if only they'll vote against their own interests and in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy and spending cuts for the rest.

        We'll invite you to the party too, we promise! But for now, just stay here and watch my car for me while I go in by myself. Here's a dollar. I'll send someone out for you, eventually.

    • They could help elect Donald Trump down there; how's that for intelligence?

    • What makes you think I'm not richer than you and paying your way?

  17. Good article and high time Jack Layton got some respect and clear-headed analysis as well instead of being treated by Central Canadian media as some sort of rump party manager. Canadians are a decent bunch and have noticed the costly shenanigans of the Harper government, who have no intention of working in good faith with other democratically elected MPs who actually represent the majority of us. Can you imagine what he'd do with a majority when he wastes no time scurrying over to the GG's doorstep to beg for a shutdown of Parliament when things aren't going his way with a minority government?! What amuses me is the constant 'harp'ing on by party hacks and obedient media types about Conservative governments being fiscal geniuses while NDP governments, quel horreurs!, actually have a much better record of prudent management when at the helm for two and three consecutive terms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in particular. Paul Martin and Jean Chretien had to cope with the massive debt inherited from Brian Mulroney, which they did, and whoever takes over federally next will need to do the same with the spendthrift Harperites and their non-tendered jet orders and other attempts to placate important corporate funders of party coffers. It is high time that the great majority of Canadians who aren't climate change deniers, oilsands advocates, private health care ideologues and prison developers stood up and voted accordingly to toss this embarrassing bunch out entirely.

    • I guess Bob Rae leading the NDP in Ontario didn't happen.

  18. Excellent. I agree with Citizen First: the writer of this article, and Maclean's, is to be commended for finally writing a very clear and sober article that takes a serious look at Layton and the NDP. It is not uncritical, but neither is it unfair.

    I wish the Glib and Stale were so professional and intelligent.

  19. I own a business and I am voting NDP. Harper is not good for business. He is good for BIG business. The kind which produce very little and instead try to create monopolies by "investing" in corrupt conservative politicians (like Harper).

    NDP platform includes a SMALL business tax cut. I will vote NDP!

  20. You are wrong. The visiting Liberal leader, is the American.
    It will be bad for Canada, but interesting to see how the coalition looks with Jack in charge.

  21. if those are facts, please provide the source for the Merkel quote. Also, she is running a coalition, so she has to pander to many people.

    Socialism is great, until you run out of other people's money.

    • Finance capitalism is great until reality catches up with the junk economics of confusing productive wealth for debt-induced inflation of asset and commodity prices.

      • and let me guess, the Marxists have a proven solution for all the world's ills. . .

        • Karl Marx, Henry George, Thorstein Veblen, J.M. Keynes, Henry Simons and Hyman Minksy.

          I'm not interested in communism, I'm interested in institutionally successful capitalism. And the first thing that that requires is eviscerating the banks capacity to destabilize the economy with debt-induced inflation of asset and commodity prices at the expense of the productive economy.
          http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/

          • And you have a solution to unhooking from the tit of fiat money?

          • "Fiat money" is a descriptive of what money does, its functions that follow as a unit of account established by authority whether it be a nation-state, international currency union or conglomeration of merchants, etc. Historically the state has been the most stable arbiter of monetary authority because of its powers of legitimate coercion (i.e., taxation). In this sense, I reject the unsubstantiated orthodox liberal belief that money = gold which has been gradually "taken over" by states. The gold standard was as much about enforcing state power through bringing people into an expanded and standardized monetary economy as it was a free trade doctrine. For example, numismatics points towards an "imagined" monetary unit in the European medieval era that was used regardless of metallic content in coins. What mattered was money's token value not its commodity value, which of course ebbed and flowed with the power of state authority. The collapse of Western Rome being the most significant example.

            The problem with our system is not the form of money as "fiat" or a function of payment, exchange, etc removed from any arbitrary commodity standard. The problem is with 1) who creates it, and 2) how it gets into the economy BEFORE market exchange takes place. The folks at positivemoney.org.uk are an excellent source. Also check out the "Chicago Plan for banking reform" that was billed as an alternative to the 1935 Banking Act during the New Deal.

    • Unfettered capitalism is great – for the sociopaths at the top who syphon off all the wealth and leave the economy in tatters and nations and the "rabble" in unsupportable debt.

      There's no such thing as a perfect system. But a "middle road" that encourages innovation and excellence while working for the well-being of all citizens is a good utopian model to shoot for.

      And, no – I'm not advocating for any of our three mainstream parties here; I think to varying degrees they've al lost sight of the goal – and most have become entirely untrustworthy.

      • Believe it or not I agree with some of what you say. Tell me though, what country in the world has ever run under 'unfettered capitalism'?

        • Completely unfettered? None. But the closer a nation gets to that, the uglier things become. The fewer the rules, the greedier and more ruthless those at the top become. Look south…

          • one example doesn't prove a theory.

            South only proves that greed is bad, not that capitalism is.

          • Don't get me wrong; I'm not opposed to capitalism per se. But there is a tendency for the "captains of industry" to be greedy sociopaths who do not have the best interests of the nation at heart. So overly pandering to them hurts the rest of us in the long run. 2008 is proof; 1929 is proof.

            Communism is no solution either. But a middle ground that includes a healthy dose of protections for the populace is a good thing. The NDP are more to the left of centre than I would ideally prefer, but I don't think dangerously so. Especially not as OO in a minority government; there, I think they will be a good check & balance against the CPC's potential to put the interests of business ahead of the interests of ordinary citizens. And conversely, if by some fluke they manage to pull off their own minority government, then the CPC becomes, in turn, their check & balance.

          • "Socialism is great, until you run out of other people's money" is a cute turn of phrase, but it seems to me Harper has already run out of other people's money and is spending my kids' and grandkids' in order to prop up certain "capitalist" interests. So, he's no better than the socialists in that respect.

            There are things that are of intrinsic value to society, and they cost money. That means we have to pay taxes. I don't think we should pass the burden on to others. In other words, I'm a blue liberal / red tory – socially conscious but fiscally responsible. It's how I live my life and run my finances; I want the government to do the same.

          • Here, here! I don't think we can afford Harper anymore, nor can we let him de-reg banking, and who knows what else. I'd also like to see a less religious, less control-freak type in charge.

          • any proof for the religious control freak jab?

          • Oh yeah – and when I say "That means we have to pay taxes", I'm including our corporate residents as well as private citizens. Under Harper, I think they are getting a disproportionate break to the detriment of the rest of us.

          • When you say "I think . . " I can assume that is an opinion statement.

            I hate to break it to you, but we, in Canada, and in the US as well have been running with a warped Capitalism, with many checks and balances. If you want to see what a little push to the left does, look at Europe. I am not saying this from any perspective other than it is true.

            Using points that are 80 years apart of proof that a system is wrong is a pretty poor starting point.
            No one would argue that the "captains of industry' have any nations beat interest at heart. That is up to the government. But at the same time, don't think that they have to stay. The two biggest banks in Brittan are making plans to move, as their taxes and regulations are set to go through the roof. Lots of folks will be out of a job.

            The bottom line is that we have not had a free capitalistic society, nor have we had a socialist one. Either one would be nuts. To take what we have now, and throw it away, would be just as nuts. We just need to tweak it.

  22. Before Jack Layton dislocates a shoulder trying to pat himself on the back for his excellent election campaign performance, perhaps he should disclose to the electorate whether or not his recent hip fracture was the result of metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer. As far as I know he has not been directly asked this question by our politically correct press core.
    In order for voters to make an intelligent and informed decision before casting their ballots on May 2, this important and serious question should be asked and honestly answered.

  23. Before Jack Layton dislocates a shoulder trying to pat himself on the back for his excellent election campaign performance, perhaps he should disclose to the electorate whether or not his recent hip fracture was the result of metastatic (spreading) prostate cancer. As far as I know he has not been directly asked this question by our politically correct press corps.
    In order for voters to make an intelligent and informed decision before casting their ballots on May 2, this important and serious question should be asked and honestly answered.

    • You want an NDP majority? Start targeting Layton's health.

      • Do you really think Canadians are that ignorant? On second thought, you may have a valid point.

        • It's not ignorance, it's the appearance of beating up on an injured man. There's no good way to do it without looking like you're beating up on an injured man.

  24. I'd rather work towards a Progressive Canada that builds on our 19th and 20th century roots of popular reform. If we have returned to a global and financialized economy of a nature similar to the 19th century than it only seems fitting that the same problem's faced by Canadians then should be resurfacing today:

    An economy organized around private interest-bearing debt and inherent instabilities;
    A bloated financial sector extracting wealth from productive industry to unproductive, usurious jackals;
    Anti-labour economics resulting in a greater concentration of wealth and hence under-consumption, deflation;
    Reactionary scare-tactics and "doggy treats" from government to prevent popular radical reform.

  25. Jack Layton reminds me of David Miller!

    Please don't vote for NDP!!

    • NDP is the party for me

  26. Yeah, Vladimir Layton as PM… holy s##t, this country is in big trouble. The lefty interference from outside the country is very disturbing, (George Soros, Avaaz.org.) of course the Canadian media will ignore this interference in the hope that enough of the terminally stupid will vote for the socialist NDP/ Liberal, pie in the sky, unicorns for everyone, and rainbows all the time brigade. What a bloody mess!! Look for Canada to be even more polarized and divided. Media darling American Iggo would be a disaster, but Vladimir Layton? That would might please the media and the lefty interferers from outside the country who would love to see the country weak and divided, but Vladimir Layton would be an effing disaster.

  27. But Layton denied that would mean Ottawa effectively legislating against the use of English. “That's not what it's about,” he said, describing the proposed law's aim as “ensuring the rights of a French-speaking person to be able to work in that language.”

    Yup, the way I can expect to work in Quebec City. Like as an English speaking Canadian I will be spoken to or get service in my language. Quebecers expect to be able to get anything they want in French in any part of this country but the rest of us are just a funding source for them.

    I also find it typical that in this article we see how political groups are strategic, conniving and really it reflects how this is more about the party than the electorate.

  28. The Gospel according to Jack Layton:
    Big Business—BAD.
    Big Government —GOOD.
    Rich Individual—BAD
    Poor Individual—GOOD.
    Earned income—BAD
    Welfare— GOOD.
    Private Enterprise—BAD
    Socialism—VERY GOOD.
    Conservative Canadian Government— BAD
    United Nations—Good.

    • The Gospel according to Stephen Harper

      Out of control spending by me – GOOD
      Out of control spending by other people – BAD
      Taxing income trusts – GOOD
      Higher taxes – BAD
      Coalitions concocted by me – GOOD
      Coalitions concoted by other people – BAD
      Accountability for other parties – GOOD
      Accountability for me – Bad
      Evil attacks on other parties by me – GOOD
      Evil attacks by other parties on me – BAD
      People who worship me – GOOD
      People who disagree with me – MUST BE DESTROYED

      And let's not forget:

      Unlimited Profit – GOOD
      Environmental controls – BAD
      Religion – Good
      Science – BAD
      John Baird – GOOD
      Gays – BAD
      War – GOOD
      Abortion – BAD

      • I may be imagining things but I do recall Canada having a very small document, called The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and in it I think it said something like, "Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and religion".

        Also what is wrong with profit?

        Are you saying by your post that you would rather have a government control freak aka. Jack Layton as prime minister.

        Gospel according to me(and the economy):
        Government ownership=bad
        Low taxes=good
        Healthy leader=good
        Safe country(well defended)=good
        No gangsters on the streets=good
        Tough on crime=Conservatives
        High taxes=Jack Layton
        Jack Layton=NDP
        NDP=Jack Layton

        And the moral of the story is…

        Jack Layton=bad for all of us

        • I didn't say there was anything wrong with profit. I said there was something wrong with unlimited profit – that is to say, profit gained by having no environmental controls or labour standards.

          If you want to live in a country with no environmental controls, no labour standards and no government ownership of things like healthcare, for example, why don't you just move to China? You should see how great the air tastes in Shenzhen.

  29. Ah, there we go. That's where it always ends up when it comes to the Real Canadians™ on your side of the fence. The ol' Love it or Leave it gambit.

    Classic nationalism at work. "Our country is the best at everything, and your ideas for changing it are stupid and will ruin everything!" Okay, but here's a list of places in which my ideas work pretty well, which kind of ruins your argument… "Well then go there!"

  30. Incorrect inclusion of second comma.

  31. As of now, I decided I hate elections and modern democracy – I moving to China (not to be confused with all of that shiat)

  32. I hereby retract my earlier statement about odds on Prime Minister Jack ( http://www.torontosun.com/2011/04/29/layton-found… ).

    For the record this shouldn't be an issue, but it may be (he wasn't charged with anything, and Olivia Chow says she knew about it – that's good enough for me). There are plenty of legitimate reasons to not vote NDP. However, for a party so reliant on Jack's personality, this has the potential to hurt the brand. On the other hand, he could even gain from this – like Chretien's speech on the face ad, or Clinton's Monicagate bump in the polls.

    • Don't get me wrong, I think Jack is the biggest BSer in the nation but…

      • In his/his wife's denial they clearly admit he was there. The question is whether Canadians care or believe the old "I was just there for a massage" line.

        • 5% above prime cap on credit cards – vague cap and trade system – enforced CPP contributions – babbling on about monetary policy- on and on is why I think he is full of s**t. It is up to the lefty idealists to judge whether he mistaked a 20 year old sex-slave in chinatown for a physiotherapist.

  33. Can anyone imagine the hyperventilating, wall to wall coverage, round the clock news feeds,

    if Harper was caught in a sting investigation looking for underage Asian prostitutes? Oh Jack was just "going for a message" is WIFE says. Alllllrighty then:
    http://www.torontosun.com/2011/04/29/layton-found

    Meanwhile, this will likely get coverage only in the Sun, and then promptly swept under the rug.

    Hey, he's a "progressive" so getting caught in a bawdy house in a sting for child Asian prostitutes is no big deal.

    ….in other more pressing news…..did Harper shake his son's hand while dropping his off at school….."FILM AT ELEVEN!!!"

    • The story is already in the Star and the Globe. And when Norman Spector speculated about the Harper's marriage, his article was shut down (and rightly so). If there is one thing that separates us from the Americans, its class.

      • You mean the politically "correct" kind of "progressive" class.

        The kind of class that tut tuts telling the truth about Iggy's freakish departure from Canada for his adult life, but one that applauds with glee the cartoonization and national mocking of one's deeply held religious beliefs – of a christian conservative (Day and Barney the Dinasaur…oh how the news Anchors chuckled at that one).

        Harper being crucified for respecting his son's wish not to be publicly hugged by his dad – class

        Alleging, completely baselessly, that Harper will engage in militaristic dictatorial control of "our streets" – class

        Pointing out the very true fact that Layton was involved in a sting relating to the exploitation of child Asian prostitutes – no class.

        Got it. I think we all understand the ground rules here.

        • This was a huge misstep by the Tory war room. I had figured that Harper was going to get a decent minority if they just left well enough alone, but they may have just put Jack over the top by trying to smear him at the 11th hour.

          It's so transparent that even the most obtuse voter can see right through it.

          • Why assume it was the Tory war-room? A large chunk of NDP supporters were either Liberals or Bloc supporters, just a few weeks ago. Both parties face their possible annihilation, but would be the beneficiaries of an NDP collapse. Frankly, it could just be an attempt by Sun News to garner viewership, without any malign involvement by any of the parties.

            Just as we should give Jack Layton the benefit of the doubt on the alleged deed itself, we should also give the potential distributors of the rumour the benefit of the doubt, until we have evidence to the contrary. As far as we know, only Sun News is guilty of propagating the story.

          • So you're up on you're hind legs in a hysterical panic excusing naked Jack from his love of young Asian prostitutes, while simultaneously lighting you're torch and grabbing you're lynchin rope to condemn the "Tory war room", for which you have not the slightest of evidence to back up you're claim that they were the ones trying to "smear" poor old naked Jack. I guess that means you're a transparent, partisan hypocrite, with a mob mentality and more obtuse then the most obtuse voter. Good times.

          • You're correct in that I don't have proof it was indeed the Tory war room. It is possible that it was another party. It's just that darned reputation the CPC has that makes them the default fall-guy for this.

            When they spend two years smearing people and leaking information, it's hard to not default to blaming them. But you're right, I was rash in my judgment.

          • Fair enough Noob, although I'm unaware of these supposed CPC "smearing people and leaking information" that you speak of, however I'm well aware of the constant, co-ordinated smears coming from the Liberals and their media.

        • 1. I agree with you that Kinsella's mockery of Day's religious beliefs was disgraceful. There should have been outrage (somebody on team Canadian Alliance lost a big opportunity for sympathy votes – there are plenty of Christians in Canada).
          2. This is the first I've heard of the issue around Harper hugging his son. I do remember the handshaking – personally, I found it endearing that Harper treats his kids like grownups.
          3. If you recall, there was a massive backlash over soldiers with guns.
          4. The alleged prostitute was not a child – she was in her 20s according to the supposed police report.

        • And the rumours that Harper's wife left Mr Family Man for a female bodyguard, or that certain key members of the anit-gay CPC are in fact closeted gays? The press has left those alone – and frankly, appropriately so. with the possible exception of the hypocrisy issue – of which there are plenty more egregious and relevant examples – it's none of our business.

          If there's evidence that Jack has a regular habit of availing of the services of prostitutes, then it becomes an issue. But one "possible" instance years ago, where the cops admittedly did not have enough evidence to lay charges…? Sounds more like a "dirty tricks" smear than anything of substance.

          As to Day's beliefs… potentially much more relevant. The denial of scientific evidence without a credible alternate theory in one arena points to the possibility that government policy on issues involving science may be determined on something other than the demonstrated evidence. This has the potential for a genuine negative impact on Canada in the scientific and economic arenas.

          • "The denial of scientific evidence without a credible alternate theory…"

            I disagree, sort of. So long as Stockwell Day's private beliefs remain private, it shouldn't be an issue. If Day proposed creationism in schools (which isn't even a federal issue), or funding creation "science", then his policy stance would be relevant. Even then, however, it would be the policy, not the belief that you'd want to attack.

            Lots of political leaders have beliefs that are not rooted in evidence. There is no evidence that God existed, and only weak evidence of Jesus – yet every Canadian Prime Minister has been religious, and presumably a good number believed in God. This hasn't been, and shouldn't be an issue, unless their belief in God starts to influence policy. And even then, it isn't a huge problem, if there are also non-religious reasons to support a policy. For instance, Jimmy Carter's religious convictions may have pushed him to do more for the poor, but there are also other good reasons to help the poor, so it isn't an issue.

          • Hence my use of "potentially". The ridicule was over the top, but I think it fair that the public be aware of such a belief so they can gauge whether or not such a belief is inappropriately driving policy.

            In Day's case, I am not aware of any instance where that actually occurred, so it became, in retrospect, a moot point. But in assessing leadership qualities, it seems to me as relevant as Iggy's years abroad – and I think you'll agree that much more has been made of the latter.

          • Yes,

            because there is a big difference between rumours and fact.

            It is a fact that Jack was in a bawdy house

            at a time it was being raided for child prostitution

            that Jack was naked, face up, and non responsive to the question as to why he was completely naked

            that this bawdy house was well known for its prostitution and specialty with "Asian women".

            Facts.

            That the media didn't run with a baseless speculative rumour means nothing.

    • Hey, chet's back!

      How's that CPC majority +11 working out for you?

    • Prostitute? Perhaps. Underage? As reported definitely not. BIG difference.

  34. TORONTO – Jack Layton was found laying naked on a bed by Toronto Police at a suspected Chinatown bawdy house in 1996, a retired Toronto police officer told the Toronto Sun.____The stunning revelation about the current leader of the New Democratic Party comes days before the federal election at a time when his popularity is soaring.____When the policeman and his partner walked into a second-floor room at the Toronto massage parlour, they saw an attractive 5-foot-10 Asian woman who was in her mid-20s and the married, then-Metro councillor, lying on his back in bed.____

  35. Just from judging by the online reaction, it looks like Jack will gain from this one. However, people's outward reactions may be misleading. Nobody wants to sound/look like the sort of person that buys into scandal and rumour, but we can be pretty crass in private, as the success of reality shows illustrates.

    • Absolutely. That's why I said Duceppe could profit by it by taking Jack's side. He would give the impression that he's not supportive of such stories, while simultaneously broadcasting the allegations to all of his voters. I assume that it would probably have some impact on Jack, and there would be no loss to Duceppe.

      But if he doesn't do anything, or comes out against Jack, he just reinforces to voters why they made the switch in the first place.

    • As per expectation the leftists have no morals. Quebec voters will endorse ” Jack Off” even more. Maybe with all our tax dollars going to Happy Jack he could subsidize his “massage” therapist’s and get them out of the red light district.

      • Whereas the Conservatives are a bastion of moral righteousness? The Liberals pilloried Carson for his call-girl exploits, not to mention the Jaffer affair and "big-busted hookers."

        But at least those stories had some implications for the way that government figures or advisors were doing business. This story is just 100% smear. 18 years old, hiding in someone's desk waiting for a time when Layton is an actual threat. Its pretty desperate grime if you ask me.

  36. And how is yours doing?

  37. I wonder if NDP goose stepper, Pat (lying his ass off) Martin will now morph into his hysterical righteous indignation routine and quickly condemn Jacko for his Asian girl fetish, or does Pat (lying his ass off) Martin only morph into an angry, self righteous goon when it involves imaginary "busty hookers" and "bags of cocaine" smears used against Conservatives. Ha, ha, ha, ha… yeah, I already know the answer. Liberals, NDP'ers are such bloody hypocrites it's nauseating. Now is the time when the media CTV,CBC, Glowball, Glob@Plop, Tor Star, MacLeans etc. etc. etc. do the opposite of what they'd do if this was a story about PM Harper and loyally defend naked Jack and his peculiar fetish's, while viciously attacking the source, better yet, blame it on the Cons. Good times.

  38. While Vladimir Layton enjoys going to common "bawdyhouses" for a little "relaxation", it's still unclear whether "Harper" ate that wafer, or not, and the medias selective over the top hysteria isn't going away any time soon… Over to you Lloyd, Peter, Lisa, Wendy, or whoever. How long will it take for confessed Liberal party voters like Coyne, Wells and Wherry to rush to naked Jacks defense and proclaim this type of smear against a fellow lefty to be despicably outrageous and indecent. Ha, ha, ha… Good times.

    • WTF? He was "found" there once in 1996, and now 15 years later you're using the present tense to talk about it. This is propaganda. Harper's policies are destructive, Ignatieff supports torture and wants to drag out the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, but by all means let's discuss 15-year old gossip about Layton's personal life.

      • Calm down Elaine… The media will fix this story for you and make Jacks love of Asian prostitutes and illegal whore houses seem like a good thing. Vladimir Layton could be a serial rapist or a pedophile and the media would still champion him as some kind of hero, and idiots like you would still support him too. So, calm down, oily Jack will still get lots of support and be frequenting Asian triad whore houses before you can say… Masturgate.

        • Holy crap Trudeau lover, biggest troll on Macleans comment board, clearly! lol Vladamir Layton? lmfao whatever

          • Holy S##t Chris Socialist, biggest turd on the comment board, with lots of competition! Whatever dude.

      • Gee, I wish my wife was as understanding as Olivia Chow.

  39. Alaways wondered why Layton resented being rubbed up the wrong way …

  40. Jack Layton found naked in a bawdy house by Toronto police is the story – fact he wasn't charged does not absolve him of any wrong doing- either criminally or morally.
    It would be best if the media just gave Canadians all the facts and not filter the story so Canadians can decide for themselves.
    If one question has yet to be answered for all Canadians and possibly for Olivia Chow as well – Why were you naked?
    The question that may have been answered for Canadians is, we possibly now have an explanation for that lavish expense account that surpassed any other MP or leader.

    • "fact he wasn't charged does not absolve him of any wrong doing- either criminally or morally."

      Uh, yes it does.

      • No it doesn't, was Robert Pickton charged and tried for the other twenty horrible, and brutal murders he was accused of? No. Was he guilty of those crimes he wasn't found guilty of? Absolutely, without a doubt.

        You don't need to be convicted to be guilty-morally or criminally.

        • Criminally, you most certainly do. Morality is in the eye of the beholder.

      • Evidently there’s this new way to be held criminally culpable without even being charged. Actually, Harpy was trying to bring it in but it was killed by the soft-on-crime Liberal-controlled Senate.

  41. Jack Layton’s plan to change the country in 100 days may well occur. Any guy caught at a bawdy house at 9:30 pm butt naked, with his hostess just finishing her “job” must be Prime minister material. Never mind that there was a police raid 2 weeks earlier where his massage expert was charged by the police. No wonder he is called happy jack. Better yet his wife seems just fine with his handy work. I wonder why he did not use this massage treatment for a tax deduction? Anyway with Jack in our wallets we all will need to compensate for his hand held morality.

    walt s

    • This is a bad comment; in no civilized country could this kind of comment be said; I am embarassed to tell my European friends how we here do politics and we only have one party ruling; it's time to move on to a real democracy like in Scandinavian countries and have a real coalition with many parties ruling and some in the opposite. This kind of ruling is not a democracy that we have here now. Anja

  42. Hmm, let us see what is wrong with your comparison. During a war countries manufacture war products, and lots of them, and men go off to war.

    Now after we see what happens during a war we will apply common sense to the situation. Since most men are off fighting, factories producing the arms and armor for the war hire women. Do you see what I am saying, I am saying the unemployment rate during a war is close to if not 0. 0 unemployment=good economy, good economy=big surplus, big surplus=easy to run country.

  43. I have often thought it might be nice to live in Sweden, Denmark, Norway etc. It is true that they pay more taxes. However, they have less poverty, better environmental policies, subsidized daycare, more paid holidays and they top the list when it comes to happiness, health, education. The list goes on. I'm sure I missed some.
    More taxes isn't always bad. Isn't it better knowing that you will still be looked after, if you become sick or lose your job, and that your childrens' education will be paid for (even University). No wonder these countries are happier. Less stress.
    I love Canada, but I'm afraid Harper is going to make it more like the US, where poverty is through the roof and they have expensive education and health care. NO THANKS. Let's make Canada more like Denmark etc. Where very well educated people make better choices for their country.

  44. Velvet Touch – A Community Clinic – Who knew????
    Olivia Chow was quick to release a written statement, that husband Jack Layton indeed did attend a "registered massage clinic" and she was well aware of it and he "needed a massage" late in the evening.
    Jack Layton, later at a rally in Burnaby, was quick to point out and clarify Olivia's comment, that in fact it was a "community clinic" (Velvet Touch -good name) where he obtained his services. In trying to protect his political career, and in tune with the NDP philosophy, he felt it very important to stress it was a "community clinic" not to be confused with a private clinic. It was essential in the middle of this election, to inform Canadians, in order to solicit their support, he wouldn't be caught dead at a private clinic, a for profit health care facility, where illegal, underage, Asian sex workers, would be employed by rip off artists, in the Canadian health care field – it would have to be a community clinic he patronizes – there should be no confusion. The reason that it was late at night that he was there, we would also assume was that he didn't jump the queue, but waited his turn. A good leader leads by example.
    I wonder if Canadians becoming more aware of the fine details of the NDP health care platform and of Layton's expansion of health care services to include these "community clinics", help explain the surge in support for the NDP in this current election. Does anybody in the main street media have a better explanation for the NDP surge and why are they reluctant to discuss this NDP expansion of Canada's health services?
    Why and how could the Toronto city police confuse a community clinic with a bawdy house?

  45. People make idols. Unfortunately the material they use is sh…… , not marble. So at the very first rain idols are melting, leaving just reek after themselves. Idols are always with us and will be, the most important work for us is not to give them too much power and preserve our little democratic rights we have.

  46. It is very simple, Ignatieff has no charisma, looks hypocritical. Harper is too ambitious and represent the extreme right and is giving the feeling that money is made ​​only by the rich of this country without the help of the rest of society, forgetting that the State ultimately we all are, and at the time of any crisis, we will all pay the price.

  47. 250 Dundas West…where Jack was nabbed…naked…by metro cops. He was exploiting sexually an entrapped terrified young Thai sex slave committed to a life of being “productive” for her captors who held all her paperwork hostage …paperwork including her passport and her landed status paperwork and her virtual right to apply fo citizenship status. Jack was no hero…bur rather a guy who preferred politics to working, who marched to the tune of Canada’s most destructive and militant unions. Jack the elected councillor, rather than champion the rights of the terrified little THai sex slave, chose instead to exploit her body. This he did while in the company of Olivia…living with her who was not only a fellow councillor, but Asian as well. One cannot imagine how a Canadian quebecer could live with a girl born in Asia, while at the same time…exploit another terrific asian girl for illicit illegal sexual activities . But hey…I am not moralizing for anyone, just pointing out that the evidence is there, the facts are in, and jack Layton was NOT a hero in Canada in any measure.

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