NDP hoping to turn provincial wins into federal seats as party meets

HALIFAX — Federal New Democrats are hoping that provincial success in Nova Scotia and Manitoba — as well as a possible name change — can boost the party’s electoral prospects as delegates gather for their annual convention beginning Friday in Halifax.

HALIFAX — Federal New Democrats are hoping that provincial success in Nova Scotia and Manitoba — as well as a possible name change — can boost the party’s electoral prospects as delegates gather for their annual convention beginning Friday in Halifax.

Since Jack Layton became leader of the NDP in 2003, the party has made small breakthroughs, particularly in Quebec and Alberta.

Still, Layton has not been able to guide the party beyond fourth-place.

In an interview, Layton brushed aside any concerns that delegates may begin to question his leadership after six years at the party helm.

“As long as they feel we’re going in the right direction, then they’ll probably ask me to carry on,” he said.

More than 1,300 delegates are expected to descend on Nova Scotia, where voters recently elected the first NDP government east of Ontario.

Delegates are poised to hear from organizers of successful NDP campaigns in both Nova Scotia and Manitoba, as well as members of the team behind U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic race to victory last November.

Layton said the party will take pointers on how to convince disenchanted voters that change is possible.

“There was a lot of excitement about the Obama campaign and how they were able to mobilize people, especially people who had given up on the political process (and) had walked away from voting,” Layton said.

“How do you get people back to feeling that they can actually make change happen?”

But some pundits said the New Democrats may struggle to make an electoral breakthrough unless the Opposition Liberals seriously stumble before the next general vote.

Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said the NDP cannot afford to make any mistakes and has to be ready to pick up the pieces if Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals do.

“The (NDP)’s fortunes are more in the hands of others than it is in its own,” Wiseman said Thursday.

“In other words, it has to hope that the other parties — especially the Liberals — trip all over themselves.”

Some delegates attending the convention also hope that dropping the “New” from the NDP’s name will freshen the party’s image and cement it as a more mainstream political force in Canada.

Layton would not say whether he’s in support of the proposed change, which is expected to be introduced Friday and voted upon Sunday. But he insisted the issue would not dominate the weekend’s debates.

“I’m not weighing in. I want to see where our members go,” he said.

Layton said the party needs to remind voters of its past success, particularly on policies such as health care and pensions.

“In some ways, we need to go back — and we are going back — to some of those very strong policies that our party brought forward for Canada,” he said.

Jim Bickerton, a political science professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., said if the NDP wants to be successful in the next election, it must hold onto its established vote and swing others its way.

“The electorate has become willing to switch around and the NDP can get in there and pitch like the other parties,” said Bickerton.

Still, he said it’s unlikely that a major breakthrough is in store for the party.

Layton is undeterred.

The party has been “raising and spending as much money as the two old-time parties” and has a team of strong candidates at the ready, he said.

“Canadian politics hasn’t seen the New Democrats in a position where we’ve been able to offer a full-fledged campaign from coast to coast to coast with a strong caucus going into an election,” he said.

“That’s going to happen this time.”

Just Posted

The Red Deer Public Library downtown branch will be reopening after a year on Monday, after work is completed on its HVAC system replacement. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)
Red Deer Public Library opens with limited in-person services Monday

All three Red Deer Public Library branches will be open for in-person… Continue reading

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Red Deer Emergency Services responded to an explosion at a duplex on Rupert Crescent Saturday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to explosion in Red Deer early Saturday morning

There was an explosion at a Red Deer duplex early Saturday morning.… Continue reading

Terry Betts, of Kananaskis, looks at the vehicle he was hoping to sell during the Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet in the Westerner Park parking lot Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Quick Times Red Deer Swap Meet held outdoors

A big automotive swap meet was held outdoors this year in Red… Continue reading

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is set to re-open on July 2. (File Photo)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum to reopen Monday

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will reopen for visitors… Continue reading

Huzaifa (left), Saif (middle) and Zoya (right) were among the 60 or so Red Deerians who participated in a vigil for the victims of a recent terrorist attack that killed four people in London Ont. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Red Deer vigil honours victims of London, Ont. terrorist attack

About 60 people gathered at the corner of 49 Ave. and 50… Continue reading

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Multivitamins are shown on the packaging line at the Pfizer plant in Montreal, Thursday, July 12, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canadian drug companies want new pricing regs delayed again until after pandemic

OTTAWA — Almost three dozen Canadian pharmaceutical companies made a direct appeal… Continue reading

Most Read