The slow build to the Orange Wave

Brad Lavigne, a key advisor to Jack Layton, maps out the NDP’s climb from also-ran to official opposition.

This next tier of NDP voter shared three key things in common with our base: they had a deep mistrust of Harper; they did not like Michael Ignatieff, even though they
were primarily Liberals; and they liked Jack.  More than anything, these folks were looking for someone in Ottawa they could trust. With Jack scoring well personally, the common denominators of leadership and trust fit in well with our leader-focused branding of the party.

They also saw Parliament, mired in partisan sniping, as a distant and dysfunctional entity that wasn’t getting things done for them, even as health care was suffering, there was a  jobs and pension crisis, and life was becoming less and less affordable.  The next election was an opportunity to seize on this sentiment. At the heart of what was wrong with Ottawa were the very players who were responsible for the deterioration. In other words, the status quo was responsible for the dysfunction. This positioning allowed us to answer the question of who we were running against in the campaign. If we could successfully make the case that the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc were the reason Ottawa was broken, we could paint them as the problem and us as the solution.

Here is John Geddes’ look at the NDP’s 2011 campaign. Here is my dispatch from the first week of that election. And here is what I wrote during the first week of the 2008 campaign, when Jack Layton announced his intention to be prime minister.

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