Jack Layton’s winter caucus speech

At the end of NDP’s winter “strategy session,” Jack Layton summoned the faithful to the Reading Room in the Centre Block to give them what amounted to a pre-election speech.

On the three teleprompter screens as we entered was the phrase “We’re ready for an election, but we’d rather get things done.”

At which point, someone turned to us and said, “Every time Layton says Get Things Done™, take a drink.” I’m kind of glad we didn’t take him up on that, because dear sweet Rhea, mother of Zeus, did he say they were going to Get Things Done™ a whole lot.

The room was arranged in circle formation, and there was the big Canadian flag backdrop, and it was difficult to find a stitch of orange on the MPs (and candidates) assembled. (Chris Charlton and Peter Julian were the only ones with orange I spied.)

Peggy Nash, former MP and current party president, introduced Layton, saying he’s the only leader who demonstrates “real, pragmatic leadership.”

Rock music swelled, the giant screens showed images from Layton’s January tour, and Layton entered, shaking hands along the way.

The speech itself was pretty standard NDP stuff – they’re the hardest-working team on the Hill, they’ve been “working overtime” to Get Things Done™ for Canadians. They have a plane, money in the bank and their new high-tech war room, and their candidates are ready to defeat Conservatives in the next election.

Funny thing, though – while Layton went after Conservatives in his speech, he nevertheless touted Robert Chisholm, their new candidate in Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, saying they would win back the riding – though it’s currently held by a Liberal. He talked about Harper’s attack ads but went after Ignatieff for supporting corporate tax cuts, for “blustering” rather than trying to help Canadian families.

After the shout-out to their founder, Tommy Douglas, and the great Canadian institution of public healthcare, Layton said that while he has his differences with Harper and Ignatieff, he wanted to take the opportunity on Monday to put aside partisan games to Get Things Done™ and listed off his priorities of expanding the CPP, reducing the federal tax on home heating, and addressing health-care, with a shout-out to pharmacare in there. He gave a shout-out to Libby Davies’ housing bill and returned to his traditional points about bringing the troops home and how horrible the Senate is.

He closed off by saying that people don’t vote for the party with the best attack ad, but for those who Get Things Done™.

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