This week’s news about Jack Layton’s latest and obviously threatening bout with cancer shocked the nation. Certainly anyone who follows politics cannot help but to be impressed with his courage and determination to continue his battle while planning to return as the NDP leader this fall. It did not take too long however before the media began to question the lack of transparency that the NDP was showing by failing to disclose the type of cancer Layton struggles with.
Clearly any departure of Jack Layton would have enormous significance on Canadian politics. In particular it is clear the NDP’s success in Quebec was largely a function of Jack’s personal popularity, it is not clear whether even a Quebec leader, like Thomas Mulcair, could maintain party momentum in the province.
Behind the scenes, there is a lot of discussion going on about the implications for Liberals and Conservatives. Well before Layton’s announcement, the Prime Minister told a gathering of top party donors at the recent CPC Convention in Ottawa, that one way back for the Liberals would be to concentrate on the Province of Quebec.
With the Bloc decimated and the roots of the NDP shallow, there is an opportunity for the Liberals to focus on re-creating their support base in the province. The Prime Minister felt for that reason the party had to do a better job of re-connecting with the voters of Quebec.
Clearly it is in the Conservatives interests to finish the Liberals off in the next election. But an NDP without Jack Layton could put a lot of seats at play for the Liberals once again.
Although most commentators are reluctant to discuss these political implications at this time, in the back rooms the planning has already begun.