Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, visited The Globe and Mail editorial board on Thursday, April 21. The complete transcript is here. For briefer selections, click here.
Mr. Layton: I always say I'm a long-tack sailor. We planned what we wanted to say, and the message we wanted to take to people, and we just set out on that voyage. Probably Canadians were largely tuned out for the first little while. But the debates ... a little like the Stanley Cup, people who don't normally watch hockey watch the finals.
The good thing about the debates for us is that it's equal time, and people realize that maybe they actually do have a choice, even though they're told constantly that they don't, that there's only the two old choices. We always make the point that actually, you do have a choice, and we're making that message very clear, and we've laid out some very practical proposals about what we would do to respond to what we think people are concerned about today. And I think we began to break through, probably starting at the debates.
John Stackhouse, Editor-in-Chief: Was that the moment?
Layton: Well, you have equal time, in an unmediated way, say what you want to say to people. And, a lot more people paying attention. I think those two things kind of come together in that moment.
Mr. Stackhouse: I'm trying to get a sense of what the voters are telling us. Despite the momentum that is moving towards you, by and large it seems like, across a range of polling, that things are kind of the same. What are you hearing from the public, not about the NDP, but about the picture at large about the government?
Mr. Layton: What I feel and hear is a lot of enthusiasm. People are interested in our ideas, and that's what they're bringing to us. Maybe it's partly the campaign world that I'm in during this period of time. We have these gatherings - the interesting ones you can't even pick them up on the mikes, but people will, on your way out as you're shaking hands, people want to say something to you.
It'll be something like, "We can't afford the cancer medications that the doctor says we're supposed to have. I'm glad you're doing something about that." Or, I had one woman email me, she had a good job here, she was actually somebody who ran for mayor of Toronto, as part of the Hummer sisters ... You're all too young ...
Gerald Owen, editorial writer: Deanne Taylor
Mr. Layton: You're all too young. Deanne Taylor. That blank stare I got there told me something. She said she used to work at the building owner's association here in downtown Toronto. And she had to give up her job. She's looking after two aging parents, there's not enough home care, the palliative care situation isn't there for her. And she's lost four years of her career, and she was just glad that we were talking about getting more home care and more long-term care.
People are responding to those individuals in a very personal way. Or people out of work: I mean this myth that Mr. Harper and the bank economists have been perpetrating, that somehow we're out of the economic difficulty - I kept getting up and saying, "What about this plant that's closed?" or "Look at these jobs statistics. They don't add up."
And the OECD's most recent report is pretty strong on that. Certainly what we're seeing. You can resolve it and look at the statistics, and they tell you much of what we've been saying.
But the stories come through, like the guy who said to me - he used to work in a manufacturing - somewhere along the 401. Auto-parts, I guess. Twenty-two dollars an hour, had a medical plan, and something going for his pension. 49 years old. He'd worked there for 27 years or something. Right out of high school.
I mean, we took our kids right out of high school in Ontario, and put them right in those factories, and they became the best darned manufacturing workers you can imagine. For years. Thank God for the Auto Pact. And he says, "I went out and I was applying for jobs and I found out my daughter was applying for the same job at the coffee shop." A well-known chain. I won't mention the chain.
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