Okay, so back to the issue of the thread, Chantal Hébert's article... The problem with Jack Layton is that he knows that Paul Martin can recuperate policy issues with some agility. Jack thus has to wait until actual, hard policy is announced. Jack cannot start the policy wars until Paul Martin has announced. In the meantime, Jack has done an amazing job deflating Martin. Once Martin actually starts to govern, then Jack will have new material to work with, and Chantal Hébert (my favourite columnist) won't have anything to say about a backlash with Jack.
Rasmus is talking about building credibility. That's what bringing an Ed Broadbent on board does. Copps is not a credibility asset for us but she is a credibility negater for the Liberals if she joins us. We'll have to see who Martin brings on board, because he might have a few big names too. (McKenna, Dosanjh, etc.)
One thing that people have not really noticed is how nationalism has risen incredibly in this country in the last year, thanks to Jean Chrétien, and how Jack Layton has been milking that cow like a factory farmer would. (I am vegan, myself.) A friend of mine, who has immigrated to Canada more than 20 years ago, was telling me that the decision not to go to Iraq was the first time he felt proud of being Canadian. There is a renewed sense of pride in this country, and I think that a lot of Canadians who aren't in the logging or beef industry don't want our Prime Minister to get that cozy with George Bush. They want a close relation with the U.S., but not with George Bush. I think that the whole ballistic missile defense thing can be deflated quite easily, in one line: it wouldn't have stopped the September 11 terrorists. Canadians don't want part of it.
But what is significant with this is that, as opposed to what Hébert says, Jack Layton *has* kept with the times. Last year, Jack was bashing Martin in this way: "we will take the Chrétien legacy project and run with it, Paul Martin won't." This was policy-making, not simply Martin-bashing. Then Martin got elected, and all everyone was talking about was Paul Martin, can he run this country? Since the topic was so personal, then Jack attacked Paul Martin on his tax record. Now what's happened in the last week was the Martin people warming up to Missile Defense, and Jack has accordingly moved with the times, and has even kept a bit ahead. For example, Martin stole Jack's idea of a new deal for cities, and he's about to reveal what he's going to do with that during his throne speech; however we're already hinting about belt-tightening and debt-reduction. Jack has already started to attack Martin on cities, saying that the gas tax won't be enough. Once Martin releases his budget, focussed on debt-payment, I think Jack will start attacking Paul Martin as a one-trick pony that is incapable of spending Canadians' money on the services that they want or something like that, i.e. Cities Need Money. If there's a corporate tax cut, Jack'll have a party.
So while I have an immense amount of respect for Chantal Hébert, I think that she's missed the target this time. Jack has been on top of the issues so far. Jack has made sure to personalize conflict as much as possible, which like Holly and Alinsky said, is how most elections are played.
Of course, the Liberals can resort to their old trick, which is to promise things they have no intention to deliver. However I think that Martin is not that keen to campaign on the left, so I think that Jack Layton will keep on riding high.
Does anyone have a recent poll? I wish I'd see a poll on people's confidence in Martin versus Layton.