June 29, 2004
Summary: NDP's Layton, who won in a razor-thin victory in own
riding, says that proportional representation will be a key issue in the next
NDP's Layton Ready to Play Central Role
By Bill Curry
June 29, 2004
NDP leader Jack Layton vowed to press Prime Minister Paul Martin on cities,
proportional representation and a national child-care program now that he has
received the "central role" he requested in a Liberal minority
The combined number of Liberal and NDP MPs will be enough to keep the
minority government afloat provided the Liberals and NDP are able to secure an
"Over the last week, Paul Martin made many commitments," said
Layton, listing improvements to health care and opposition to weapons in space.
"My commitment to Canadians tonight is that we will hold him to it with
every ounce of energy that we have," he said.
"We will see just how interested Mr. Martin finds the idea of
Layton has said he would demand a referendum on proportional representation,
which would change the voting system to the benefit of smaller parties.
Though the NDP fell short of Layton's target for a record number of seats and
his wife Olivia Chow lost in the Toronto riding of Trinity Spadina, Layton said
the results give the NDP a clear mandate to pursue its agenda in Parliament.
"I think a lot of Canadians clearly wanted the NDP to play a central
role," he said.
The NDP made significant gains in the popular vote and boosted its seat total
last night despite a razor-thin victory for Layton in Toronto Danforth.
NDP spokesperson Donne Flanagan compared the new Parliament to the Liberal
minorities of Lester Pearson in the 1960s which were maintained through support
from the NDP caucus.
Despite the sudden influence the NDP now holds, the party fell short of its
stated target of 43 seats with the latest figures showing a final seat total in
Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent unseated the Liberals in Ottawa Centre as part
of a strong NDP showing in Ontario.
NDP hopes of a breakthrough in Newfoundland and new seats in Nova Scotia were
dashed as the party lost one of its four Atlantic seats.
Three sitting MPs easily won their seats. However the fourth NDP seat was
lost in a close battle as Susan McAlpine-Gillis tried to hold on to the
Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, N.S., seat held by retiring NDP MP Wendy Lill.
New Democratic Party
"We've been very successful in altering the discourse in this country.
We've been successful in getting the Conservatives and the Liberals to talk
about homelessness, peace and security, the war in Iraq, child care, pharmacare,
Brad Lavigne, party strategist