A U.S. diplomat in Ottawa wrote in 2008 that the NDP has "no hope" in the foreseeable future of winning enough seats to form a government, according to a cable made public by the WikiLeaks website just days ahead of Monday's federal election.
The publication of the document comes as public opinion polls in the current campaign show the Conservatives and the Liberals are both losing support to the NDP, with most national surveys placing the New Democrats in second place behind the Tories in voter support.
The cable, written by embassy charge d'affaires Terry Breese to the U.S. State Department in January 2008, was part of a batch of documents released by WikiLeaks on Thursday, many of which covered a wide range of political and economic issues involving Canada.
In a document with the subject heading "NDP plans to run 'largest campaign' ever," the NDP's standings and future campaign plans are outlined. The document was written several months before the 2008 election was called.
"The NDP has no hope in the foreseeable future of winning enough seats to form a government, but may be able to hold on to its current level of support and even do better, given the persistently weak popularity of both Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and [Liberal Leader Stéphane] Dion," Breese writes.
Breese goes on to say the NDP "has carved out a niche among traditional leftist and working class Canadian voters, and will remain a minor force in the next election, although it needs to be watchful of the even smaller Green Party, which is attempting to garner support from the same pool of environmentally-minded liberal voters."
The document laid out the party's plans to "prominently contrast the articulate [Jack] Layton" with then-Liberal leader Dion, who resigned as leader shortly after his party suffered one of its worst defeats in Canadian electoral history to Harper's Conservatives.
The cable says Dion's opponents labelled him a "mild-mannered academic with weak leadership skills and a shaky grasp of English."