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Layton hopes to bring Saskatchewan back into NDP fold

NDP Leader Jack Layton is greeted by 3-year-old Ophelia McDaid as he meets supporters during a campaign stop in Regina on March 28, 2011.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The New Democrats struck out in Saskatchewan in 2008 and it irks them.

This is the province where Tommy Douglas entered politics and where voters in the not so distant past embraced the NDP provincially. It's where federal politicians like Lorne Nystrom found niches of support. And where New Democrats have come second to Conservatives in election after election.

It is also one of the few provinces in Canada where the NDP did not have a seat during the last Parliament.

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So Jack Layton is back, on the third day of the 2011 campaign, knocking on Saskatchewan's door and asking, once again, to be let in.

"Here is Saskatchewan, people are tired of the Ottawa Conservatives taking them for granted," Mr. Layton told about 120 supporters Monday morning in a theatre that was once a church, apropos of the Douglas legacy.

"In this election, I am asking everyone in Saskatchewan, no matter who you voted for in the past, to unite with the New Democrats, to rally together this time, so we can defeat Stephen Harper once and for all."

On Monday, the target riding is Palliser where the NDP candidate is a young criminal defence lawyer from Regina whose firm focuses on youth and people with mental health issues.

Mr. Layton intends to spend the day highlighting the fact that four senior members of the Conservative Party, two of them senators, are facing charges related to the financing of the 2006 election.

Conservative Leader Harper "said he would clean up the Liberal-style scandals. And what's he done? He's just replaced them with scandals of his own," Mr. Layton told the crowd.

"We've got a cabinet minister gaming the system, we've got a corporate lobbyist using his insider access to try to line his girlfriend's pockets, we've got Harpers senators up on election fraud charges and they're still allowed to collect their heft senators' salaries," Mr. Layton said.

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"I will make illegal to appoint party insiders to the unelected Senate. And I will stop the practice of senators campaigning or fundraising for a political party on the public dime."

Mr. Layton called on Mr. Harper to assure Canadians that neither of the Conservative senators who have been charged with election fraud are campaigning for him in this election.

Of course, the NDP says it wants to abolish the Senate, not reform it. So one assumes that, if Mr. Layton ever were to become Prime Minister, he would just scrap the Red Chamber rather that bringing in these changes.

And unless the New Democrats formed government, it is difficult to see how he could press either the Conservatives or the Liberals in this type of reform.

Saskatchewan families are also looking for real action out of Ottawa, he said.

"They're worried about the expected floods," the NDP Leader said. "Will Ottawa be there for them this time? Or will the Harper Conservatives turn their back on Saskatchewan farmers like they did during last year's floods."

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Or will Saskatchewan, once again, shut out the NDP?

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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