I caught The National on CBC last night, which included a special “Your Turn” segment with Jack Layton. CBC viewers were invited to pose questions to the NDP leader in front of a live studio audience in Halifax, with Peter Mansbridge moderating. It was a rare chance for Layton to get a full hour of airtime to himself, so how did he do?
Overall, I would give him a grade of B. Those questions playing to his strengths he really nailed, such as ones on cities, rural municipalities, gun violence and the environment. The problem was, he was very wooden at the start and had a hard time coming across as sincere. He sometimes avoided answering questions directly in favour of his talking points, which was frustrating even for a decided voter like me.
When it got down to the specifics of issues he was impressive, and you could see how well some NDP policies have been thought out, but too often it took several minutes for him to describe problems as he saw them and lay blame on the Liberals before he got to his points. Unfortunately, I felt it would take extraordinary patience for viewers to stick with Layton through his politicking, but if they did I believe they would have agreed with NDP values and priorities.
So my question is, why is it so hard for the NDP to find a leader who can come across as genuine and not appear to be fishing for votes all the time?