Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jack Layton: All Things to All People

I won't be talking much about Layton this campaign, but since he did do an online discussion this past afternoon with the Globe I thought it was worth covering (see here for the transcript). I'll do the same if/when other leaders follow suit. Overall, I think Jack got some pretty easy questions and handled them well, but a couple answers really grabbed my attention just because they get to one major problem I have with Layton: he seems to want to try to tie himself to anything that he thinks is popular (e.g., Obama) regardless of how it fits with his supposed principles or reality. It's quite the contrast with St├ęphane Dion who even Layton admits is a man of principle who has consistently taken bold stands on many issues regardless of their popularity at the time.

For instance in the forum when Layton was asked about how the NDP could be trusted with the public purse he shockingly started claiming "his party" has the best record on balanced budgets. Of course he's referring to provincial NDP governments that for the most part governed much farther to the right than the current federal NDP platform. But still I would think it quite odd if Dion started taking credit for Dalton McGuinty or Gordon Campbell’s accomplishments. Though if Jack wants to claim credit for the successes of past NDP provincial governments, surely he's willing to wear their failures too then?

Even more galling though was Jack trying to tie himself directly again with Gary Doer, Premier of Manitoba. He implied again he'd manage the economy just like Premier Doer if he were actually Canadian Prime Minister. Now I remember last November Jack Layton actually literally said "Doer's policies are the same as ours". Well as I recounted at the time, Doer is someone who CUT corporate taxes, opposes legislation to ban replacement workers, supports a continued troop presence in Afghanistan, supports the Clarity Act (which Layton wanted to repeal), and has been a strong supporter of the "Third Way" (public-private partnerships) and the right wing Tony Blair in particular.

So which is it Jack? Would you be like Gary Doer and cut corporate taxes and reverse many of your other positions? I thought you were gonna take on the board rooms though? Or are you just trying to dupe people into thinking you are more centrist than you really are?

Who are you trying to fool, your own base, or the rest of Canadians?

Again Jack wants to be all things to all people. But that's the joy I guess of being a permanent opposition party: you'll never have to make any tough choices, be held accountable, or take a real stand on anything. Just promise the world and say you’ll be just like whoever you think your audience wants you to be, knowing you'll never have to deliver. Must be nice...

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Woman at Mile 0 said...

I have said it before....Laxer for NDP leader!! Now that would be a tough choice. With Jack its easy to be Liberal. You gotta believe in something and if the environment and our children's future isn't worth standing up for...I don't know what is.

penlan said...

"But that's the joy I guess of being a permanent opposition party: you'll never have to make any tough choices, be held accountable, or take a real stand on anything."

And that is why it was so easy for him to vote against Con bills the majority of the time in the last Parliament. Making him look like he's standing up for the principles/policies of the NDP & the people.

Meanwhile the Libs, having to abstain, sit on their hands, etc. made Layton look good to many as though he was tough & standing up to Harper & the Cons. In reality he had nothing to lose. If he had been the main opposition I think we would have seen an entirely different scenario. More along the lines of what the Libs did.

The one who tries to be all things to all people loses in the end as they become contradictory on various issues.

Layton has no real responsibility in govt. whatsoever so he just aggressively asserts his opinions in Parliament or wherever & whenever.

As you said, Danielle, zero accountability. Which, in the end, makes for zero credibility.

Scott in Montreal said...

You are quite right. I also find he has to do a lot of twists and turns balancing all the pro-union, pro-manufacturing jobs rhetoric with the tough on polluters rhetoric. He hasn't found the vision that speaks to various parts of his base at the same time. So he is left using the tried and true rhetoric for one audience or the other, and sometimes getting into policy contradictions. He is almost smooth enough to pull it off, which may be why he points to Obama as a campaigning role model. However, this could explain the trouble he's having cracking the 20% support ceiling.

Clearpath SEO said...

Interesting Press release today announces that Layton "struck a deal" with Google and Yahoo. In actuality, what he did was go on and pay for an ad for the search terms: "stephen harper, stephane dion, etc..."

Love the spin on that release to make people think that Layton has the power to "strike a deal" with Google, I don't think he could get customer service to return his call.