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(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)
(Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Douglas Bell

Another word from our NDP conscience ... Add to ...

A while ago I passed along a correspondence from Liam McHugh-Russell . That missive turned out to be somewhat, sort of, kind of prescient. Just a reminder: Mr. McHugh-Russell ran against Michael Ignatieff in Etobicoke-Lakeshore as the NDP candidate in 2006 and again in 2008. He's a law student at McGill these days and a pretty sharp cookie. So here's his latest. It's worth reading right to the end because his conclusion is a stunner.

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So I watched CBC's The National and I have three things to say:

1. The NDP surge is the story, two nights in a row. The first eight minutes of the show were about how well the NDP is doing and how the other parties are responding. Some people said some things about Québec and the Constitution - and the response? Jack looked calm, smooth and energetic talking about how his priority is making people's lives better. Harper looked whiny, harping on the point. Ignatieff seemed passionate, but only got five seconds on TV and the point he made didn't stick.

2. The At Issue panel treated the surge as a fait accompli; we are, in other words, no longer at the point of shooting milk through our nose. Remember that thing I said about non-belief turning into belief, Jack is not Ed, the word on the street living in 1988, all that we need to know is that we don't actually believe what we think we believe? We're way past that point. The surge is real, people realize it's real, the other parties realize its real, the press treats it as real, and it was already real on the weekend, when people came out in disproportionate numbers to vote in the advance poll, 33-per-cent more than in 2008. If that translated on election day, we're talking 75 per cent of the population voting rather than 58 per cent. So we're talking new voters, no doubt. Ignatieff's message today is that the Liberal voters who didn't come out in 2008 are back, and he's right - they are back with a vengeance, and they're voting NDP.

3. The Insiders panel pretty much agreed with the At Issue panel: the surge could be nudged but not reversed, but the other parties haven't planned for this and they don't even have a plan to nudge them, let alone reverse them. The numbers game, the candidates question: it's just not going to make a difference. The At Issue panel and Peter both talked about the surge building, the possibility that the NDP could end up with even more votes, more seats than the current numbers show. Angus Reid poll released a few moments ago? Shows the NDP at 30 per cent, five back from Cons, 8 per cent ahead of the Liberals. What's going to happen next? The NDP put up new ads in Montreal in bus shelters today and the news cycle is going to be in a frenzy for the next three days talking about wedding dresses and British republicans; Mansbridge isn't even going to be in the country. In other words, with the election past the last curve in the track, the NDP is not only ahead but still gaining momentum and spending money.

Where does it all end? Check out people's first and second-place preference from today's EKOS poll :

I told you two weeks ago that the NDP would need just a glimmer of hope to finally take off, and now they've gotten it. They're finally heading toward their ceiling and that ceiling is high indeed: 130 per cent the height of the Conservatives or the Liberals. You want a seat count? NDP 115, Conservatives 110; Liberals 65; Bloc 18. In the end, politics is possible and suddenly, so are these results. Me, I am still rooting for the NDP because I believe they're serious about us having the Canada we already have, except better. But it's also very exciting that the result we do get five days from now will be determined by the question I said mattered when this whole thing started: whether Canadians believe it's possible for them to have the government they want. And it seems increasingly like they can - and that they will.

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