When news broke that several of the new NDP MPs are of the separatist persuasion, Jack Layton went into damage control, stating emphatically that his was a federalist party, and their personal views were independent of that.
However, I remembered something from a past election and found the story yesterday.
During the 2004 campaign, Jack Layton promised that if elected he would repeal the Clarity Act. An act voted on by his own party and what former NDP House Leader Bill Blaikie, praised as one of former prime minister Jean Chretien's main legislative achievements.
NDP leader Jack Layton reopened the unity debate Friday by promising to repeal the federal Clarity Act and recognize a declaration of Quebec independence if sovereigntists win a referendum.This may have been just a bit of electioneering, but it does raise the question. Is he still committed to repealing it?
Thomas Walkom asked this week, just what the NDP stood for. It is no longer a movement and certainly not a socialist party, despite what the Conservatives say.
This is a fair question. When they were the fourth party, few cared. Now that they are the official opposition, they will be under the microscope.
I started reading Layton's book Speaking Out yesterday, and so far it's mainly philosophical, though I'm told that he lays out a clear alternative for Canada. I'll keep you posted.
I turned off Jack Layton when learning that he has been working with Stephen Harper to destroy the Liberals, a decision he may or may not regret. But I have not turned sour on the NDP as a whole, because they have so many MPs that I have the utmost respect for, including Libby Davies, Charlie Angus, Paul Dewar, Pat Martin, and many others.
But you can be sure that the Conservatives will make this an issue at some point.
In his book Harper's Team, Tom Flanagan mentions that before trying to elect Stephen Harper, their staff hunted down every article ever written by him, in an attempt at damage control. (they were blindsided by the 1997 speech to the ultra right-wing Council for National Policy).
The Liberals did the same with Michael Ignatieff, but it didn't stop the Conservatives from using his illustrious career against him.
And they didn't stop at just attacking him, but went after his family. His wife was not yet a citizen, an ancestor had been antisemitic and his father not a real struggling immigrant, because of his education. This was George Ignatieff, one of the most respected Canadian diplomats in history, who earned the nickname 'The Peacemonger'.
Jack Layton's father was a cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney's government, but it's his grandfather who could become an issue, given that ad hominem attacks are a Conservative benchmark.
Gilbert Layton was a cabinet minister in Maurice Duplessis's cabinet, the Quebec premier who is said to have run the most "ruthless political machine" in Canadian history. He quit the party when Duplessis refused to support conscription during WWII.
Expect this to appear as a segment on Fox News North and a possible attack ad in the future.
Layton may have bought into Harper's idea that Canadians should only have two choices, a Right and a Left, but what he fails to understand is that Harper really believes that Canadians should only have one choice: him.