BTC: NDP et cetera

Five years ago this might’ve appeared in the form of a notebook for a Sunday newspaper. Now you get to read it without getting ink on your hands. Progress…

-Perhaps to the chagrin of his speechwriters, Jack Layton tends not to follow his script too closely when delivering speeches, rewriting sentences and skipping the odd bit as he goes. At one point on Saturday, the teleprompter read only, “Tell taxi driver and gas price story.”

For the most part this understandably lends him a looser, more conversational tone. And sometimes his ad-libs improve on the text. But, at least on Saturday, his cadence was off and not sticking to his script (with the cadence his speechwriters had built into it) actually ruined some of his applause lines. To large degree, a public speaker needs to guide his or her audience. Obama, to lazily use an obvious example, tells his audience how and when to cheer with pace and tone and volume. Layton’s deviating from his script actually resulted in his audience cheering, on several occasions, before he could get to the kicker.

All that said, he’s probably still the best public speaker of the national party leaders. As small a compliment as that is.

—This poll escaped much notice this weekend, but is probably worth consideration. While Harper, Dion and Duceppe all hurt more than helped their respective images this first week, Layton at least broke even.

—At Memorial University on Friday, Layton entered the room to Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Going To Take It, which was released before most of those in attendance were born. On Saturday, he was introduced with Sloan’s Good in Everyone and played off stage by Broken Social Scene’s Jason Collett. This probably counts as progress.

—The text for Layton’s Saturday speech used the word “change” 21 times. Stephane Dion was referred to only twice. And both times only by the rather formal, “Mr. Dion.”

—Though the campaign maintains Layton was not briefed about the prices of basic commodities before his appearance in Toronto, he was, coincidentally enough, briefed on such stuff before appearing in Montreal. Apparently one of the local outlets had been quizzing provincial politicians on food prices earlier in the week and Layton’s aides feared visiting federal leaders might get the same questions. Behold the impressive efficiency and ridiculousness of modern politics.

—As reporters boarded the flight back to Ottawa last night, Layton was noticed reading Andre Pratte’s Aux Pays des Merveilles.

—NDP supporters arriving to Saturday’s rally were greeted by exactly seven Liberal protesters, including Jay Telegdi, nephew of Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi. When a couple men engaged the young partisans in a shouting match, the Liberal delegation took its leave.

—Seconding John’s observation, at an ethnic media roundtable in Brampton on Saturday, the most pressing issue seemed to be local mail delivery.

—Asked for a prediction in Montreal, Thomas Mulcair said the NDP could win between six and 12 seats in Quebec.

—Vast Left Wing Conspiracy Watch. The MC for Saturday’s rally was Sabrina Jalees, a local comedian and Toronto Star columnist.

—Not that the Toronto Star seems particularly keen on Layton’s NDP these days.

—Reporters on the plane back to Ottawa on Saturday night received an autographed copy of one of Layton’s books. The personalized inscription thanked each for being aboard the inaugural voyage of Kitchen Air.

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