Sunday, September 10, 2006

Jack Layton’s leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada has been reaffirmed, this morning, at the party’s federal convention in Quebec City where 92% of delegates voted against having a new leadership convention. The vote was the first formal say by party members on Layton’s stewardship of the NDP since his election as party leader at the 2003 NDP leadership convention.

Layton, 56, has led the NDP through two federal elections and to its highest level of support since the 1980s. With 29 of 308 seats in the Canadian House of Commons, however, the party is still not a contender for government though it was able to hold the effective balance of power from 2004 to 2006 when the Liberal Party ruled with a minority government.

The resounding endorsement of Layton’s leadership will help boost the leader’s reputation after it was bruised at the opening of the convention with the news that Carl Hetu, who had been the Quebec co-chair of Layton’s 2003 leadership campaign and star candidate Paul Summerville had bolted the party. Hetu criticised Layton for not doing enough to build the party in Quebec while Summerville, a former banker who had been the NDP’s economic spokesperson in the last election, denounced the party as being hostile to the idea of a market economy and joined the Liberals.

Earlier in the convention, an estimated 90% of delegates voted for a resolution supporting Layton’s call for Canada to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

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