Jack Layton marks his eighth anniversary as leader of Canada’s New Democrats

Eight years of practical Canadian leadership

Eight years ago today, Jack Layton was elected leader of Canada’s New Democrats. While leading his team through three elections and three Parliaments, Layton has progressively redefined pragmatic leadership for a 21st century Canada.

Through three elections under Layton, the New Democrat caucus has tripled in size by earning a million and a half new votes. He has delivered breakthroughs in Alberta and Newfoundland & Labrador, and the first Quebec New Democrat MP in a generation.

As Canadians increasingly turn away from the divisive political games that too often dominate Ottawa today, Layton has been delivering a fresh message during his recent cross-Canada tour: “I’ll work with any party that’s ready to seek out common ground to get practical results for Canadians. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what Canadian leadership is all about.”

And Layton has the record to prove it. In 2005, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives withdrew their support for the Liberal budget and tried to force an election over the sponsorship scandal. While Layton’s New Democrats were posed to make electoral gains at the expense of the Liberals, Layton instead directed his team to first try and negotiate a new budget that got things done for people.

The historic NDP budget deal redirected $4.6-billion from corporate tax cuts into the priorities Layton had promised voters he’d put front and centre—affordable housing, energy efficiency, public transit, skills training, international aid and better bankruptcy protection for employees.

After the Conservatives were elected, Layton’s pragmatic style did not change. Reaching out to again his political opponents to get things done, Layton worked with the Conservative government to bring about the historic apology to Indian Residential Schools survivors on the floor of the House of Commons. And later, New Democrats secured a billion dollar EI boost, protecting more than 190,000 vulnerable older workers who had been thrown out of work and were inching toward the welfare rolls.

Layton’s team also passed landmark climate change legislation–twice. And just this past session, Layton’s team secured House support for motions to tighten foreign takeover rules, limit prorogation powers and guard against oil spills. Even last week’s ban on phthalates in kids’ toys began as an NDP initiative.

Now Layton is poised to lead New Democrats into the next election with the most ambitious campaign in party history: “We’ve got the money, we’ve got the experience, and we’ve got the determination—to make sure every Canadian knows there’s a team of New Democrats who care enough about them to put practical solutions ahead of political games.”

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