But now, their leader, Jack Layton, has prostate cancer and is undergoing treatment for the disease. Neither he nor aides are disclosing details of the treatment but most cancer survivors will say that, whether its surgery or drug therapies, beating cancer can leave one feeling weak and in need of time for rest and recovery.
Today, in a scrum following a meeting Layton had with Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the budget, I [David Akin] asked Layton if the battle he's fighting will weaken his or his party's resolve to vote down the government, if necessary, in a confidence vote. His answer:
"No. It will make no difference to the enthusiasm with which our party carries forward our mission which is to change the old politics that we've seen for so many years and try and establish a new direction for the country."
As cruel as it is to say it, if Jack fought an election in the middle of his cancer treatment it would become an issue: would you vote for a PM who might drop dead in three months? Of course he could say nothing else other than what he does, but Jack and the NDP will figure out a way to support the budget. And anyway it looks like the Tories will be offering up some pretty weak coffee in March, so as not to stir up too much enmity.