Charlie Angus MP – “It Feels Like 2011”

Charlie Angus and the Late Jack Layton the former leader of the New Democrats
Charlie Angus and the Late Jack Layton the former leader of the New Democrats

TIMMINS – Leader’s Ledger – This week I received calls from national media speculating on the state of the NDP. I can’t tell you how many times over the years the media have written our political obituary.

It makes me think of the spring of 2011 when Jack Layton was being written off as a finished leader. At that time, the Liberals were propping up the Harper minority government while the NDP was stalwartly opposing the Conservatives. When the Liberals learned that Jack was being treated for cancer they began taunting us that we would be forced to support the Conservatives because Jack couldn’t handle the punishing schedule of a spring election.

Our caucus met to discuss the upcoming non-confidence vote. We had few resources. The media were widely predicting a total defeat for the NDP and all of us were worried about Jack’s health. This was the only time I ever got angry with Jack.

“Your health means more to me than a confidence vote, Jack,” I pleaded with him. “Don’t force an election if it means you’ll get sicker.”

But Jack never thought of himself. He stated bluntly that there was no way he would support Harper. We voted down the Conservative budget. The election was on.

Within a day, an orchestrated defection of one of our members to the Liberal drew massive media attention. They used it to further the narrative that we were finished.

But we stayed focused. We worked the ground. We spoke to people who were growing tired of the political insiders running Ottawa. We offered Canadians an alternative and won the greatest victory we ever had.

When I talk to people across this country, it feels like the spring of 2011 all over. They don’t trust Justin Trudeau. and they rightly don’t like Andrew Scheer. As for our leader, people ask me, “What can your guy do for us?”

Our guy is a committed social democrat who will put national pharma care, Indigenous justice, environmental action and the rights of working people on the table. And he’s the one political leader ready to go after the billionaire-class to pay their fair share.

Predicting the demise of the NDP? Bring it on.

Charlie Angus MP