From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/08/jack-layton-new-democratic-party
Jack Layton's New Democrats have come from nowhere to challenge the ruling Conservatives
Ed Vulliamy in Toronto
There is a buzz, even in the rainswept air along Danforth Avenue, as lunchtime drinkers emerge from the Fox and Fiddle and mothers collect their children from the Holy Name Catholic school. This is the "riding", or constituency, of Toronto Danforth, parliamentary seat of the man who lost the Canadian federal election, Jack Layton.
So why the buzz? Because within that defeat was victory of sorts: Layton's New Democratic party was the phenomenon of the week, coming from nowhere to become the new official opposition and redraw the political map of Canada.
Layton's NDP is a combative socialist alliance of unions, disaffected middle classes, former communists, immigrants and industrial workers. "Yeah, so he didn't win," says Ben Forbes, an electrician, buying his train ticket to work the late shift at Pape station, "but he did better than we dared think he would."
"This is like a popular part of town," says Maura Beckett, pushing her twins through Withrow Park, "where we vote for Jack and keep voting for him until he's prime minister."
It is fitting, somehow, that these constituencies are called ridings – more English than England, in a Commonwealth city that looks like the American midwest but sports the crown of Windsor on licence plates and freeway signs, and her majesty on a C$20 bill.
But the political climate is now singularly Canadian: across these ridings, the country returned to what feels like good, old-fashioned punch-up politics.
The clear victor is the incumbent prime minister, Stephen Harper, who heads a Conservative overall majority reminiscent of that enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher in the mother country. Harper, in his victory speech, insisted that he would form "a government for all Canadians", speaking like a one-nation Tory, but he knows that Canada is now bitterly divided along ideological lines, rather than the usual linguistic, geographical or demographic issues, thanks to Layton's NDP.
Though born and raised in Quebec, Layton began his life as a career politician in Danforth, doubling the NPD's vote in the city during his first year as party leader in 2003. Within four years, it was up to 18%, but Layton was still regarded as an outsider by the main Conservative and Liberal parties, as he failed to convert his local base into a national one.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/08/jack-layton-new-democratic-party