Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NDP ready for prime time.

THe polls don't show that the NDP is in range of being the opposition at present. However, in terms of actually criticising and opposing Liberal policy the NDP is the only real national opposition. Both media and the people so far seem too wedded to a two main party system for this to alter as yet. If the Liberals keep on as they are doing perhaps there will be a significant shift to the NDP and to other parties such as the Greens.

Wednesday » October 24 » 2007

Layton says NDP ready for prime time; Liberals say no

Mike De Souza
CanWest News Service

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OTTAWA - A small army of New Democrats has descended on the nation's capital to map out a new strategy to cripple the Liberals and Bloc Quebecois in order to become the main alternative to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative party.

"For too long, the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois have taken voters for granted," NDP Leader Jack Layton told about 150 party members, including MPs and their staff from across the country at the start of a two-day workshop Tuesday. "It's time for change."

While he accused the Bloc of abandoning progressive policies by propping up the Tory government in its two budgets, he said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is leading an "absent opposition" by abstaining from voting against the government's policies in its throne speech.

"At a time when Canada is at war, when our climate is in crisis and when the middle class is falling further behind, this government had an opportunity to show leadership. It failed," Layton said. "It proved once again that it can't be counted on. And when everyday Canadians look to see who has the leadership to stand up to the Harper agenda, they see the Liberals ducking for cover."

NDP officials say their goal is to identify disenchanted supporters of the Liberals and the Bloc across the country as they did in last month's federal byelections in Quebec, when they won the former Liberal stronghold of Outremont in the city of Montreal. A party spokesperson said the NDP also has a healthy bank account and is ready to match the other federal parties by spending the maximum amount allowed on advertising and expenses during the next general election campaign.

Many Liberal MPs have warned against forcing a fall election after the party was shut out in the byelections and stumbled in recent pubic opinion polls, plagued by in-fighting and resignations in the party's Quebec wing.

The three opposition parties could bring down the minority government and trigger an election by voting against the throne speech.

Ralph Goodale, the Liberal House leader, said it was not in the best interests of Canadians to force an election this fall over what he described as a "symbolic" speech in Parliament with no legal consequences.

He added that Layton's claims of being an effective opposition were nothing more than political stunts from the sidelines that would fool no one.

"The reality is there are only two parties that have the capacity to form a government in this country: the Conservative party and the Liberal party. Those are the alternative governments," said Goodale. "The NDP, with the Bloc, is a fringe player."

Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said he respects his political adversaries but noted the NDP had less than seven per cent popular support in two of the three ridings, winning the other one with a star candidate, former Quebec environment minister Thomas Mulcair.

© CanWest News Service 2007

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