Dion could potentially cause harm to the part of the NDP’s appeal that comes from urban social liberals for whom issues such as the environment, gay marriage and more arts funding are major concerns, but Dion will have little impact on the party’s appeal to its poor, working class constituents. Dion’s appeal may be a challenge for the NDP in places like Ottawa Centre, Trinity-Spadina or Parkdale High Park, but of little or no consequence in Winnipeg North Centre, Vancouver East or Timmins- James Bay.
With green competition from the official Green Party and now from the Liberals plus an incumbent neo-con government that will tempt its supporters to vote strategically, the circumstances facing the NDP are highly adverse. However, they do have strong leadership on the part of Layton, who for example, was busy this summer touring small communities suffering from hard times in the softwood lumber industry. It would be a mistake to be dismissive of a party that is ably led, and currently in far stronger shape than in the mid-nineties.