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Yesterday’s shocking “Orange Crush” sweep for the NDP in Alberta wasn’t supposed to happen.

Rachel Notley Alberta NDP

After 44 years of Conservative rule, the province much-maligned for being “Canada’s Redneck Zone” or “Texas North” surprised pundits — but not pollsters — when it turfed Jim Prentice to elect Rachel Notley as premier. The Tories only managed a third place finish, behind the right-wing Wildrose party.

So what happened? Did the land of cowboy boots and oil wells suddenly decide that the NDP’s brand of social democracy was preferable to the Tory blue brand of pro-wealthy, pro-corporate policies? Was this a protest vote or an indication of real change?

And, most importantly, does this spell bad news for Stephen Harper and the Federal Conservatives in the upcoming October election?

Eh, maybe. But probably not as much as you might think. Here’s why:

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The longtime leader of the NDP and official opposition leader of Canada, Jack Layton, lost his battle with cancer this morning at age 61:

“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones,” the statement read.

Layton led a party that I often didn’t agree with. I wasn’t a big fan of him as a politician, either. I mocked his used-car-salesman demeanour, his debate tactics, his party’s habit of apologizing for extremism or drawing false moral equivalencies, and even his moustache.

All of that aside, though, his death is a tragedy, just as any death from cancer is a tragedy. It also comes at a time when the country is, more than ever, in the iron grip of a Conservative party that is doing frightening things to our political landscape. The NDP’s historic gains in the May election, which vaulted them into official opposition status, meant that Layton was expected to play a major role in doing whatever he could to keep the Tories in check. Now, of course, this duty will pass onto someone else.

Canadians of all political stripes – left, right or the kitchen sink – will mourn Layton’s passing, and rightly so. I didn’t always agree him, but  even where we disagreed, I recognize that he was acting for what he believed was his vision for Canada. My condolences to Olivia Chow and to the rest of Layton’s family and friends.

You can read the text of Layton’s last letter to Canadians here.


Top 10 reasons why tonight’s results are bad for Canada


Well, the votes are in, and Stephen Harper has his majority government. The right moves further to the right. The Tories, after spending five years walking all over Canadians as a minority, now get to walk all over Canadians even more as a majority. Harper believes – as he should, with these numbers – that […]

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Vote smart; read the platforms


What does your party believe? I’d venture a guess that only a small number of Canadians who vote actually bother to read their party’s platforms… or the platforms of the other parties.  Even if we concede that politicians break campaign promises all the time, shouldn’t you know what your party is promising before casting your […]

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Election day


The Election Prediction Project is forecasting 125 seats for the Conservatives, 94 for the Liberals, 51 for the Bloc, 36 for the NDP, and 2 for Independent candidates. They’ve been pretty dead-on in past elections, so we’ll see if that trend continues this time. Voting is our most fundamental right and privilege. Regardless of your […]

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Layton’s fuzzy logic


Jack Layton things that the rise of the ADQ in Quebec means that more Quebeckers will vote NDP in the next federal election: Layton told about 100 NDP supporters on Saturday that the rise of the ADQ was spurred by a rejection of the province’s two “old” parties. “They wanted to see something new,” he […]

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Liberals fish in NDP waters


The Liberals’ post-convention surge in support is coming largely from the left, according to a new EKOS poll: The EKOS poll, which surveyed 1,022 voters on Tuesday and Wednesday and is considered accurate to 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20, showed the Liberals picking up support mainly at the expense of the left-leaning […]

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I don’t care that he killed people, but how dare he kick my dog?


Jack Layton and the NDP have withdrawn their support of the Liberal government, opening the door for an opposition movement that would bring it down and force elections. Layton claims it’s because he’s aghast at the corruption within the party: “We cannot express confidence in a government that is under the leadership of a party […]

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Minority rights for sale


That’s the greater implication of this proposed blackmail by the Conservatives: The Opposition Conservatives are willing to support the NDP’s $4.6-billion budget amendment, but only if the Liberals agree to delay same-sex marriage legislation. The Liberals have the numbers to pass the budget even without Conservative support. So did the Liberals grow a backbone and […]

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De facto NDP government


Coming soon to a Canada near you: a de facto NDP government: The NDP could seek a long-term agreement to prop up the Liberal government in exchange for a handful of concessions, party officials said Wednesday. Fresh from winning $4.6 billion more for its priorities in return for helping the Liberals survive a confidence vote, […]

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