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It's time for the NDP to finish what Layton started

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton arrives at a news conference in Toronto, July 25, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

REUTERS/Mark Blinch/REUTERS/Mark Blinch

While Jack Layton recovers -- and he has my best wishes for a full, speedy recovery -- his fellow MPs would be wise to take the advice and direction of Mr. Layton's senior advisory team. To his credit, he has attracted some of the best political minds in the country to his team. They are proven veterans, loyal to Mr. Layton to the core, have delivered improved results through every election, managed this health crisis exceptionally well and are immensely respected by all who deal with them. They don't do things by the seats of their pants as evidenced by their always-improved outcomes.

Brian Topp, Anne McGrath, Brad Lavigne, Karl Belanger and Kathleen Monk, among others, are not household names but they are key players who have helped Mr. Layton and his colleagues surpass the Liberals all the while positioning themselves as the government in waiting.

These fine individuals, like many others, have been emotionally gutted watching their friend and leader suffer at the whim of a villainous cancer. Yet they well know one of the things that will help speed Mr. Layton's recovery is comfort that his party is in good hands and continues to move forward while he takes his medical leave.

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Yes, Mr. Layton's huge electoral success in the last election, particularly in Quebec, was due in large part to his personal appeal and a series of other circumstances. However, Mr. Layton also built a team of elected and unelected people that has depth and experience. The fact that he can go to his bench and pick Nycole Turmel, whose politics I don't agree with but whom admittedly has talent, further speaks to the strength of his organization.

I thought that was one of his most astute moves on Monday and demonstrated that while he might be physically frail, his mental mettle is strong. The choice of Ms. Turmel ensures their will be no open divisive leadership politics shenanigans while he convalesces. It also means that Ms. Turmel and Mr. Layton's OLO will continue with their original summer plans which included building up the party's Parliamentary infrastructure to adapt to their massive May success. Continuity of leadership and clarity of direction are important in a time of crisis. This is a crisis, but Mr. Layton's team can handle it. So far they have done it brilliantly.

Now Jack, go heal. You made wise moves years ago to hire smart people and develop a long-term plan. The team will carry the ball for a while.

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