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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 25, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta January THE LETHMIDOI HMA1D S Anthony Westell Can the NDP break out of the shadow? WHAT EVER happened to the NDP? the con- vention last spring at which the New Democrats chose Da- vid Lewis as their federal lead- er, the party has dropped from the national headlines and the newscasts. Commentators are now be- ginning to take the pulse of the party and some claim to find it weak. They tend to blame Lewis on the argument that he has not caught the public's in- terest or proved as adept as Tommy Douglas at striking newsworthy notes in the House of Commons. Even within the NDP, there Is some concern at the qui- escence in Ottawa so shortly before in election, an uneasy feeling that Conservative Lead- er Hubert StanfieM is making all the running against Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and capturing the anti-government vote. 'There are certainly grounds for this type of criticism and complaint. The media seem to have accepted Stanfield as the alternative to Trudeau and have focused attention upon him In repent months. This is reflected in the opinion polls which suggest that the Tories rather than the New Dem- ocrats have been picking up the support which the govern- ment has-lost. While Lewis and his advisers may perhaps shrug and say it is inevitable that the media will pay its main attention to the Leader of the Opposition, this is an admission of defeat; a third party which wants to become number two has to be- gin by persuading the media that it is the effective opposi- tion. Lewis has not so far succeed- ed in this, although it is not en- tirely his fault. When the party chose him in April, it was aware that he was a familiar figure in Canadian politics and in Ottawa lacking personal rtnll flfl- mired, he attracted no news- man's curiosity and offered no charisma to a public which en' joys new leaders. So even with the utmost ef- fort he would have had diffi- culty stirring much excitement in