NDP insider Brad Lavigne on Jack Layton's rise

Brad Lavigne, a former chief NDP strategist, was the right-hand man to the late Jack Layton. (NDP)

Brad Lavigne, a former chief NDP strategist, was the right-hand man to the late Jack Layton. (NDP)


When the late NDP leader Jack Layton rode atop the Orange Wave to bring Official Opposition status to the party in 2011, Brad Lavigne was the chief operative who helped set it into motion.

The New Democratic Party's rise over the last decade to 99 seats in the House of Commons from a mere 12 was a remarkable political accomplishment. Lavigne, one of the key architects of the transformation, was Layton's right-hand man.

Now, Layton's former campaign manager has published his account of the party's success story.

He speaks with Jian about his book, Building the Orange Wave: The Inside Story Behind the Historic Rise of Jack Layton and the NDP, and gives his sense of the state of the NDP in 2002 compared to now.

"The culture of the party at the time was it was good enough to have a handful of seats and it was good enough to have a corner of Parliament," Lavigne said, adding that MPs would hope that "somebody would steal our ideas."

Layton's philosophy was different. He wasn't as interested in winning debates as he was at delivering on his promises, Lavigne said. The late leader's goal was simple: "I want to win government so I can implement change that we all believe in."

Lavigne also told Jian about helping Layton write a final inspirational message to Canadians. As for whether he regrets pushing Layton so hard during the campaign when Layton's health began to worsen, Lavigne said it's a question he gets a lot.

"People ask did the campaign and all the rigours that come with modern campaigning accelerate [Layton's illness]?" Lavigne said. "I don't believe so. I have no evidence to suggest that it did."

To listen to the entire interview, click on the audio player button above.

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