Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Jack Layton Really a Federalist?

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.


  1. When is someone going to fight fire with fire and go after Harpie's grandfather Harris who had a complete mental breakdown and is presumed to have committed suicide. If Harpie still wants to fling around the mud, why not let him have it back?

  2. I was turned off Jack Layton for his attacks on the Liberals (and other actions) too. It's like he can't grasp the greater picture of Canada's future. But after the debacle of this last election, I'm rethinking separatism. Okay, Quebec, you can go...but only if you take the 60.4% of us who didn't vote for Harper with you!

  3. You're right Alison. The other parties don't like to fight that way, but the Cons will stoop to anything so no one should get a free ride.

    And barefoot, it's true. Harper and Layton have carved out the centre and with it our Just Society. We need to get it back.

  4. Allison, why even mention Harper, Layton, and Ignatieff's grandfathers? It is totally irrelevant. I agree that Jack Layton needs to answer for his statements regarding the Clarity Act and his willingness to foresake principle for political gain but mentioning the man's family is completely unnecessary. I agree that Harper needs to answer for his heavy-handed approach to parliamentary democracy and his subversion of open government but I would find it particularly repugnant if the Liberals or NDP tried to make political hay out of what appears to be a really tragic story of a man who is long dead, never chose public life, and should be allowed to rest in peace. I believe that Michael Ignatieff should be criticized for changing positions on issues too often and generally failing to articulate his vision for Canada but questioning his family history or his love for Canada should be out of bounds. If we're not focused on policy and ideas, you can bet that we're playing right into the hands of those who want to distract us with pointless storylines that don't mean anything.

  5. That's actually the point though Ben. With Fox News North and the Conservative Party, things are being done that we've never seen before. When they went right back to Ignatieff's ancestors, they showed that they will stop at nothing, knowing that the other parties won't play those kinds of games.

    Layton needs to know what he's in for now. Nothing is off limits. Very sad.

  6. "I agree that Jack Layton needs to answer for his statements regarding the Clarity Act and his willingness to foresake principle for political gain but mentioning the man's family is completely unnecessary."

    Why would he need to 'answer' for his statements? Layton didn't recently come up with his belief that the Clarity Act should be repealed, he has -always- believed that. Heck the NDP originally held the idea of Quebec's right to self-determination sacrosanct and only reluctantly decided to vote for the Clarity Act during the late 1990s.

  7. I personally don't have much of an issue with the fact that Jack Layton has been working with Stephen Harper to destroy the Liberals. After all as long as the Liberals are still standing and splitting the vote on the left neither has a chance of winning.

    Well I'm pretty sure Jack just wants his party to have a fighting chance rather than always taking the backseat.

    Whether or not his working with Harper to destroy the Liberals was a good idea or not has yet to be seen. It could be potentially benefit the NDP and allow them to win a minority government. Or it could totally backfire. We'll just have to wait and see.

  8. I think it has already backfired