Jack Layton was a perpetual optimist. But Chantal Hebert believes he'd find it hard to be optimistic about his party's current state of affairs. Perhaps that's because the party under Layton made the Harper government possible:
At the last national convention Layton presided over, less than two months after the party’s historic breakthrough in Quebec, he was rightly celebrated for his election performance. But it was not all rainbows and roses. Among NDP members, elation over the party’s accession to the rank of official Opposition was often tempered by dismay at the advent of a Harper majority.
Just as the Conservatives are having a hard time living down the stain of the Harper years, the Dippers have to contend with a public which holds the NDP responsible -- at least partially -- for Harper's ascension.
But there is a bigger problem. Unlike the Liberals, the next generation in the party is in no mood to take the reins:
The reluctance of the next generation of New Democrats to step up to the leadership plate would trouble him. He would not be particularly thrilled by speculation that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could or should jump ship to come lead the NDP. She always seemed to click more with her Liberal counterparts (and vice-versa).
And the enthusiasm Layton generated in Quebec isn't there any more:
I live in Laurier-Ste-Marie, a riding the NDP twice won against no less than then-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe. This week something that looked like an in-store raffle ticket was slipped into my mail slot. It was MP Hélène Laverdière’s latest correspondence.It would be an exaggeration to call it a householder for it gave no sense of the NDP’s plans for the next sitting of Parliament. Instead it was a straw poll designed to produce a list of priorities for the party to tackle. One can only wonder what Layton would make of the NDP turning itself into a blank slate.
These are not good days for the New Democrats.