The 1984 NDP campaign slogan that was oddly familiar

With "Now more than ever," the federal NDP had chosen a campaign slogan already used by both the Alberta Progressive Conservatives and U.S. Republicans.

'Now more than ever' had been used by conservative politicians in 1972 and 1979

Familiar slogan for the NDP's 1984 campaign

37 years ago
'Now more than ever' may have been a great campaign slogan. Trouble was, it was far from original. 1:41

The federal New Democratic Party thought they had a solid campaign slogan. It was positive, urgent and easy to remember.

It wasn't "Ready for Better," the party's rallying cry for the 2021 election.

Rather, their chosen phrase for the 1984 campaign was "Now More than Ever."

But in choosing it, the NDP was treading a path that had already been well worn, and by company the party may not have wanted to keep.

"It's a catchy phrase, and Peter Lougheed may have thought so when he used it in his campaign in 1979," said CBC reporter Christopher Walmsley on The National in April 1984.

Alberta Tories liked it

The slogan "Now more than ever" was also used by the Alberta Conservatives under Peter Lougheed in 1979. (The National/CBC Archives)

The NDP was already using the slogan on billboards, rolling off the presses and in a jingle heard in radio ads.

At the time, a Liberal leadership campaign loomed in the wake of Pierre Trudeau's decision to step down, and a federal election was sure to follow soon after.

It was a proven slogan for Lougheed, an Alberta Progressive Conservative who had won a provincial election in 1979 using it.

"Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew liked the same slogan when they used it in their 1972 campaign," added Walmsley.

Nixon and Agnew, whose presidential ticket won with the slogan, were Republicans.

'Bad guys,' good slogans

An election had not yet been announced, but the NDP was ready with billboards featuring its slogan. (The National/CBC Archives)

Walmsley said there was "a bit of embarrassment among socialists" using the same slogan as a Tory premier and a disgraced Republican president.

"I certainly don't like the company," said the NDP's Ian Waddell. "But if it's effective..."

And party Leader Ed Broadbent took it in stride.

"All that this confirms is ... there's no such thing as a new slogan," he said. "Even bad guys use good slogans."

U.S. President Richard Nixon is seen with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa in 1972, the same year the Republican campaign used the slogan "now more than ever." (Canadian Press)