Both Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Topp, who says he intends to win elections within a “framework of progressive policies,” claim to be perpetuating Jack Layton’s legacy. And both exhibit the strange New Democratic conceit that Mr. Layton did not, in fact, already move the party toward the centre.
He did, as University of Saskatchewan political scientist David McGrane observes in a recent study of the NDP’s marketing strategy during the 2011 campaign. “The party tried to establish its Third Way credentials early in the campaign by focusing on issues not usually associated with the NDP: helping veterans, increasing military spending on building naval ships … hiring more police officers, preventing gang recruitment and issuing tougher sentences on home invasions and carjacking,” he writes. Canadians, strategists accurately concluded, “expected a potential governing party to have a well-rounded set of policies” — they want, dare we say it, something approximating centrism.