With new success, will the NDP plot a new course?
Published Friday, June 17, 2011 9:19PM EDT
Jack Layton kicked off his party's policy convention Friday by saying that the NDP is poised to become Canada's next government after shedding its status as an outsider on the national stage.
Following a watershed election in which the party was catapulted into second place nationally with a record number of seats, Layton says the NDP could be within striking distance in four years.
While Layton said voters threw their support behind the NDP because they wanted to oppose Stephen Harper's Conservatives, he added that the party should consider itself as a government-in-waiting.
"In asking New Democrats to form the official Opposition, they asked us to oppose, yes," Layton told the party faithful in Vancouver.
"But Canadians also asked us to propose, to take the next steps and be ready in four years to become the government of Canada. And it's up to all of us in this room to live up to that responsibility."
With that in mind, delegates have gathered to plot the party's next moves and create a path to power for the years to come.
The convention is also celebrating the party's 50th anniversary, a fitting milestone in light of the party's recent electoral fortunes.
But with many of the party's victories coming out of the blue in Quebec, the party not only hopes to build on their success but also shore up support in those ridings.
One move being considered by party delegates would see the party modify its founding ideology. In fact, it's expected that delegates will approve a new intro to the party constitution and will ditch any reference to being "socialist" in the official literature.
Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, who was in Vancouver with delegates, said the party wants to stay connected with what matters to Canadians.
"We don't need a more moderate position, we need a relevant social-democratic position," he told CTV's Power Play.
Broadbent pointed to Tommy Douglas, who was able to turn an ideal like universal healthcare into a reality.
"That's what the party is up to now. It's not moving to the right, it's looking for agendas that make sense to Canadians in terms of what their problems are today."
Meanwhile, rookie NDP MP Jinny Sims said that the election result on May 2 was no fluke, arguing that the party will be able to hang onto that support because of its values.
"We are about the Canada that I want to leave for my grandchildren," she said.
"People were worried about the direction this country was going in, and they voted for the NDP in large numbers. Four-and-a-half million people liked the vision put forward by the New Democrats. And it was a vision that put families first, healthcare first, education first."
While much of the NDP's success has been credited to Layton's personality, Broadbent said that the leader simply reflects NDP policy.
"The leader embodies the personality" of the party, Broadbent said.