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Friday, April 29, 2011

Is Layton the New Nenshi?

Watching the last minute rise of Jack Layton in the polls for the election on Monday reminds me of the Calgary civic election last October.  What we saw then was Naheed Nenshi, an "also-ran" candidate with little hope of success, turn the election for Mayor into a rout and rejection of the establishment candidates.

Are we seeing the same thing on a national scale with the rise in popularity of Jack Layton?  It seems to be true in Quebec where Bloc fatigue is translating into NDP support.  Quebec is moving far away from the Conservatives who try to buy the hearts with entreats and untrusted promises.  As for the Liberal Quebec support, it is pretty much concentrated in Montreal and will likely stay there...but with some nail-biting uncertainty for sure.

There seems to be NDP movement in BC too and some shifting ground in spots in Ontario too.  It seem as though more ordinary Canadians are seeing Jack (not the NDP)  as a credible person to put some trust in as an alternative to temper the social conservative underbelly of the Harper Conservatives and to continue to humble the Liberal Party as the same time.   Are Canadians collecting their wisdom and sending a message that politics as usual is not working and we want change...real change?  Is the surge to Jack a protest vote more than a real shift in political philosophy of Canadians?  I think so.

As we move into the final campaign weekend the parties will push the emotional buttons of their support base  to get out and vote.  I expect the messages will have all the subtleness of a late night Sham Wow (sic) infomercial and the gentility of a Don Rickles or a Joan Rivers monologue.  The winds of change are in the political air but it is a not a violent thunder storm.  It is more like a strong unrelenting headwind of thoughtful citizens pushing back against some of the distasteful campaign tactics of what has become conventional politics in Canada.

There is potential for a new political narrative to be written for Canada come Monday.  It will almost assuredly be a minority government and perhaps with the NDP as the official opposition with a strong base in Quebec.  What will that mean in terms of policy, governance and politics for the country?  Will we see some significant political flux in the leadership of the Conservatives and the Liberals if this happens?  Will the knives be out and after the leaders inside the CPC and the LPC?  It depends, but don't be surprised if there are pressures on those leaders to pass the torch.

As for Jack, he might decided to quit while at the top of his game and move into a less demanding role as well.  Duceppe wants out of politics and has signalled that desire for years.  I expect that he will be moving on soon after this election regardless of the outcome.

It could be that the next federal election will see campaigns with new leaders in all the parties, including the Greens if Elizabeth May does not win her seat this time out.

What will the political and policy map of Canada look like after Monday?  I am not sure but I am sure of one thing it will be different than it is today.  Stay tuned.  But in the meantime get out and vote.  In a democracy we always get the government we deserve...especially if you don't vote.