NDP pushes for bigger place in election sun

Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:08pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The left-leaning New Democratic Party has never been a serious contender for power in federal politics but with its numbers jumping in some polls it's gunning for a breakthrough in the current election campaign.

"Regardless of what other parties are telling you, you have a choice," NDP leader Jack Layton declared at a news conference in Quebec City on Monday, two weeks ahead of the May 2 federal election.

The party, which wants to boost social spending and corporate taxes, has always been hampered by the fact that Canada does not have proportional representation.

That means that coming in second or third in any electoral district does not bring the NDP closer to power, so a vote for it is often viewed as wasted. In the 2008 election, it won 18.2 percent of the vote but only 12 percent of the seats.

That's because he is fighting sometimes as many as three other parties in the fragmented field to the left of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

The Liberals, the only party besides the Conservatives to have governed Canada, have regularly tried to woo NDP voters, especially at the last minute, by saying that voting Liberal is the only way to block a Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

But some recent polls put the NDP ahead of the Conservatives and the Liberals in the large province of Quebec, and an online Angus-Reid survey released on Monday even had the party tied with the Liberals nationally at 25 percent.

"People realize that Ottawa is broken, that it's not working for them," Layton said. "They're seeing the same old parties, and they're fed up, a lot of them."   Continued...

<p>New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Ottawa, Ontario, April 13, 2011. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle</p>