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Talking at Tim's

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In the last three weeks, NDP Leader Jack Layton has literally come out of left field. The so-called "orange crush" has Layton and the NDP riding an unprecedented surge in popularity, and some polls show the party is between three and five points behind the Conservatives. The Free Press checked in with the voters at Tim Hortons at Henderson Highway and McLeod Avenue to see if they are jacked up about the federal NDP. It turns out Layton is the talk -- though not necessarily the toast -- of the town.


Cristan Stevenson

Stevenson doesn't follow politics closely, but said she suspects Layton has become increasingly popular because he is vocal, visible and maybe the change some Canadians are hoping for. While she hasn't analyzed the various party platforms, Stevenson said she's seen Layton speak and he seems to connect with voters and appears more outgoing than Stephen Harper. Come election day, Stevenson said voters like herself mark an 'x' on the ballot depending on who they remember.

Stevenson said she wouldn't recognize Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff if she passed him on the street.

"I know personally that's what I'm looking for, is some kind of change," she said. "Since I've been voting there hasn't been much change in direction at all. People are saying a bunch of things and they're all making promises and very few come through with them."


Blanche Houston

Houston said seniors are concerned about health care and their pensions and may be looking to the NDP for better solutions. Houston has skin cancer and said she has been forced to wait three to four months for surgery. She said she's also been shortchanged on receiving a fair pension since her husband died in a workplace accident. Many single seniors, Houston said, spend 60 per cent of their pension cheques on their monthly rent.

Houston said the NDP is likely capitalizing on the fact that other parties are all "talk" and not much has been done about pressing issues that concern Canada's aging population.

"There's no choice, let's put it that way," said Houston, who doesn't believe the NDP can actually solve many of the issues she's concerned about. "So people have leaned toward the NDP so that's why (Layton) is where he is."

Bev Mitchler

Mitchler said she would not be particularly happy if Layton formed a government or became the leader of the Opposition since she doesn't like parts of his platform.

However, she said she is not surprised the NDP has seen a spike in support, saying that Canadians may be looking for an alternative to the Liberals.

Mitchler said she isn't a fan of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and the fact that he left Canada for several years.

"I'm torn between two, the Conservatives and the NDP," she said. "I didn't know who (Ignatieff) was until the last election when he showed up on TV."

Ed Stevenson

Stevenson said he's not shocked Layton has become Mr. Popularity -- he's playing the political chess game better than his opponents. Stevenson said he thinks Steven Harper is "low-key," while he has seen Layton on TV in commercials and on the news visiting town after town following his hip surgery.

He said Layton likely appeals to more voters, since it seems like he has more of a personality.

"Harper is so low-key, you don't see him until election time," he said. "People say, hey look at this (Layton) guy. He's got a personality. He's better than what we've got now."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2011 A8

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