Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Martin Calls Out Layton

Paul Martin made a point of criticizing Jack Layton's campaign strategy. The Martin attack is purely political, but it does raise some valid points about the conflict between ambition and principles:

Liberal Leader Paul Martin chastised NDP Leader Jack Layton, claiming he had given up the fight against the Tory agenda to attack the Liberals.

"Jack Layton has been making some very strange comments during this campaign. He's attacked Liberals, not Conservatives. In fact, he's all but ignored Stephen Harper."

Martin said Layton would rather risk a Harper victory "than be faithful to his own party's principles"...

"Jack Layton has taken a pass" on fighting the Conservatives, who will end the Kyoto climate-change deal, cut social programs and introduce a socially conservative agenda, Martin said on Tuesday, during a tour of a solar-power company in Burnaby, B.C.

Watching the debates, I was particularly frustrated with Layton's unrelenting assaults on Martin. I understand why Layton took this approach, with regards to the political spectrum, his interests are far better served in attacking the realistic alternative. But, his tactics amounted to a ganging up on Martin from all sides, while the wolf in the hen house was left unscathed. I guess this is the harsh reality of politics, wherein self interest trumps reason, but that doesn't make this predicament any more appealing.

On most all of the major issues, the NDP is more aligned with the Liberals. This allows both parties supporters some flexibility in moving between the two. But, this reality also presents a situation where both fight for the same pie in many instances. Ironic, that after all the fractured right talk the past years, we now find a situation where the opposite exists. The right is firmly in place as a single entity, whereas the left vote is splintered.

Layton is playing the game, offering an alternative to the Liberals, but in so doing he acts the hand maiden for the Conservatives. In his heart of hearts, Layton must dread the thought of a Conservative mandate, yet his own personal fortune is contingent on blasting the lesser evil. The NDP can work with the Liberals, keeping them honest. Layton has no such affinity with Harper, yet the majority of criticisms focus on the closer ally.

Martin's comments are interesting, in that they accurately demonstrate the reality of the present political condition. But, want Martin wants is a completely counter intuitive philosophy from the NDP perspective. Layton would have to show unparalleled ethical appreciation to simply fall on his sword for the good of the country. The problem with politics is the ideals are not the absolute, but pawns to be exploited in this warped arena.


Anonymous said...

Yep! You are right! In this campaign, Jack Layton lost something that he will never be able to recover as far as I am concerned. That is the mantle of integrity that he seemed to be wearing everywhere he went before the campaign started. He has finally joined the club in being just another petty politician! Pity!

Steve V said...


Layton acting like the typical politican is all the more striking because of his righteousness. Layton constantly claims to operate under some higher standard, that is pure. More and more Layton resembles the stereotypical liberal elitist that should remember the phrase, "if you live in a glass house..." He reminded me of a peacock preening during the debates. One on one, away from the glare, he does demonstrate a genuine spirit, but his political instincts often get the better of him.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Chretien Liberal who is voting NDP this time (in a riding that will probably go Liberal unless there is a total meltdown). Paul Martin is a hypocrite. He's always in 'progressive' mode during an election then reverts to a 'conservative' mode once he's established in power. Not only has Martin run a laughably bad campaign, but even before that he has shown that he is bereft of vision and is a spineless leader by not doing anything (unless dragged practically kicking and screaming to do it-- Chantal Hebert made this point).

As for Jack Layton, why should he do Paul Martin's muckraking work for him? At the start of the election campaign, it was the Liberal leader's job to set the agenda, to point out that Harper is still the same underneath, that he has a bunch of scary neocons in his caucus, and instead they ran a bunch of superficial attack ads that the Tories could easily shrug off.

Besides, Layton has consistently attacked both the Liberals and Conservatives throughout this campaign. He has said that Harper is completely "wrong on the issues" and that he could hardly make a stronger criticism than that. More than once I have watched PM stumbling, hemming and hawing, repeating his favorite catch phrases like "The fact is" and "very very" and "fundamentally" and wished that we had as good a communicator as Layton as our leader. I only hope that we get some renewal in the leadership department very soon.

Jodi in Toronto

Anonymous said...

Lets see in the last week of the last campaign Paul Martin attacked the NDP and struck fear in NDP voters stealing NDP votes to keep Harper out of office. Then in office he did squat, except what the NDP forced him to do. Now he doesn't think that NDP should attack him? What a hypocrite.

Steve V said...

I'm not suggesting Layton shouldn't attack Martin. But, it is a curious situation that during the debates, Layton spent the entire time ignoring the questions, just so he could take jabs at the Liberals (while Harper smiled in the background). Philosophically, Layton has far more differences with the Conservative, but because of political circumstance, his attacks must focus on the Liberals.