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It is a beautiful Saturday here in Eastern Ontario and before I go run around on the rugby field I have been drawn to the rivetting gavel-to-gavel CPAC coverage of the NDP convention. Good on CPAC for doing their duty because otherwise this Halifax gathering of Dippers probably wouldn't be getting much attention.

The whatever-they're-called party rolled out wiley southpaw Ed Broadbent last night to woo the crowd. Apparently, he gave a barn-burner of an address about what is wrong with the Conservatives and Liberals. There is a new approach, not predictable at all. Good way to start a convention where branding for a brave new world is a central theme.

I admit I haven't seen all the coverage from NDP convention. In The Globe they are competing with Joe Clark's underwater tree park reclamation for attention (draw your own conclusions), but so far I haven't heard Jack Layton's tiresome call for the defeat of government. While I suspect he won't get through until Sunday without some sabre-rattling, Jack is in a place where he could make a real difference in the fall. With a public that clearly doesn't want an election and an erratic uncertain Liberal Leader playing a game of Russian roulette with himself, Jack could position himself as the one sensible opposition leader not hell bent on self-interest. If Layton wants to be taken seriously as opposed to be seen as the clone of the infomercial-celebrity Video Professor, he could put all the election chatter to waste and declare his focus on working to guide Canada's recovery from the recession. Sure he'll take a hit in his own party for this, but he might earn some kudos in other places that will benefit him later.

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Darrell Dexter, the new NDP Premier of Nova Scotia, proved to be an adept performer in the minority governments that Nova Scotians became accustomed to over the last decade. He wasn't constantly spewing electoral venom. He demonstrated he was pragmatic and could be reasonable. That behaviour clearly had a positive impact on voters and perhaps did more for his branding than, say, a name change to a party. Jack, if you want to win like Darrell you might want to play close attention to what he did when he had the opportunity to make a difference in opposition.

Time to turn off the TV and escape this vortex!

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