the assembled media horde in its entirety included the following: one (1) TV cameraman; one (1) girl from a local radio station; and one (1) reporter from a national magazine...
Not unreasonably, it was decided that Layton would wait a little longer before speaking - the time allowing, hopefully, for more cameras and microphones to arrive.
Finally, about 20 minutes past 11:00, the media contingent steady at three, Layton decided to get this over with...
These sorts of orchestrated events are awkward at the best of times. But there is perhaps nothing more uncomfortable than watching a man of conviction plead a seemingly important message to an audience of three (most of whom aren't all that interested in what he has to say to begin with). On this ugly morning it seemed almost dehumanizing. One had to fight the urge to give Layton a hug.
A pathetic turnout, by any one's definition and clearly disheartening. Incidents like the above may explain why Layton has looked decidedly sullen and down in recent interviews.
Lost in the "Dion is falling" poll-inspired talk, are the abysmal, consistent, NDP numbers. Those results are in the official party status realm, a thought almost unthinkable just a few months ago. What went wrong, and is it temporary?
There is no question the NDP has suffered during the environment debate. Despite the most progressive environmental agenda, the NDP has failed to benefit from rise of the issue. In fact, the environment has been a setback, as other parties steal the NDP thunder, while the Greens siphon votes. The environment has always been a central NDP plank, and frankly it was the main reason why I voted for them last election, so any permanent erosion on this file is a major blow.
I really believe the NDP is at a historic crossroads, and I think party insiders recognize this fact. If the NDP fails to rally, the next election could be an ugly affair. I'm not suggesting extinction, but real relevance lost. It will be hard for Layton to make the important distinctions, that normally give the NDP political room, now that we have a left-leaning Liberal leader and a feisty May.
Down in the polls, squeezed from all sides, and nobody seems to care.
NDP MP Pat Martin expressing concern:.
NDP MP Pat Martin says his party must make significant gains in the next federal election or be forced to admit it may never be anything more than a fringe player and end its 46-year existence. Despite a recent rise in fortunes for the NDP, the Winnipeg MP admitted his party has led a tenuous existence, allowing bold policies -- such as calling for free first degrees for college and university students -- to be hidden behind timid language. "So, the result has been to bore people into some kind of a stupor where nobody has any idea what we stand for anymore." A poor electoral result could leave the NDP with few options, Mr. Martin said, including, in the case of a minority government, a merger or coalition with the Liberals.