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Layton appeals directly to 'people disappointed with Mr. Dion'

Buoyed by polls showing the NDP within striking distance of the Big Red Machine for the first time in decades, New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton made his most brazen pitch yet to disaffected Liberals today at a campaign event in Toronto.

“This debate is coming down to essentially two visions — Mr. Harper's vision for Canada and my vision for Canada — and to a decision to be made by people disappointed with Mr. Dion,” Layton said.

Layton’s statement followed release of a poll suggesting Canadians would now prefer an NDP-led opposition. The Angus Reid Strategies poll found:

59 per cent of Canadians agreed that the NDP would do a good job as the official opposition (28 per cent disagreed), while

30 per cent think the Liberals have done a good job in that role.

That poll surveyed 1,004 Canadians online from September 23 to September 24. The margin of error is (=/-) 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Meanwhile, a Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the Tories have 36 per cent support nationally, with the Liberals at 26 per cent, the NDP at 19, the Greens at 9 and the Bloc at 8 per cent. Those results have changed little since this election period started.

Public opinion does not translate directly into ridings won, however. The NDP would have to gain more than 30 seats, while at the same time the Liberals would have to lose at least that many, in order for the NDP to form the official opposition. Mathematically, the Bloc Quebecois would appear to stand a better chance of usurping the No. 2 spot.

Still, the Liberals appear to be circling their wagons even before this week’s pivotal leadership debates. The party broadcast an oddly desperate-sounding email this afternoon.

“If your family is anything like mine, you don’t always agree with each other,” wrote Liberal Party of Canada president Doug Ferguson. “But when the chips are down, most of us turn first to our families for support and encouragement.”

“We Liberals are a family, too.” Ferguson continued, “... and now is the time for our entire Liberal family to pull together and fight back. As my Liberal brother or sister, I’m asking you to help me now.”

Monte Paulsen is editor of The Hook.

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