The NDP kicked off its campaign in Toronto last week with one open question:
what to call the party’s DC-9 campaign plane? Nominations were Frigidair and FreezeYourBumAir. Whatever that choice, NDP leader Ed Broadbent is certainly clear about where he stands—on the precipice. His party is ready to either ascend to new political heights or plummet to the rocks below. The electorate, weary of trekking to the poll, might, as in 1974, push for a stable majority government—trampling his party in the process. But Broadbent is hoping that with evidence of disastrous back-toback economic performances by both Liberal and Tory governments, the NDP will loom larger as an alternative. Broadbent’s major thrust promises to be the Clark government’s “betrayal” of its campaign promise to take the country in new economic directions. The party also plans to beat heavily on the energy drum.
Broadbent, sombrely addressing a media horde at Toronto’s refurbished
Westbury Hotel, greeted with glee Pierre Trudeau’s decision to lead the Liberals: “Until now, in the Liberals, we thought we were simply facing an old party with old ideas. Now we have an old leader too.” A new Liberal chief, the NDP leader said, might have escaped taking the rap for past Liberal programs and policies. Now he’ll have both Clark and Trudeau directly on the firing line.
But that line remains thin. In 1974, when the election was fought on another breadand-butter issue, wage and price controls, the NDP lost heavily. “The situation,” Broadbent says, “is entirely different now.” The Liberals ultimately implemented the price controls against which they had campaigned. The Conservatives, in their turn, continued the Liberal policy of interest rate hikes and gave Canadians tax increases instead of the cuts they had promised, Broadbent charged.
“We’re not running for the sake of our health,” said one Broadbent aide. “We’re running for government. And we will form the government some day.” But “some day” is as close as anyone would come. The NDP’S television advertising will stress Broadbent’s leadership capabilities, and the party, mindful that the cards are stacked more in its favor than ever before, will not forget that the deal could still go
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