"The orange wave stopped in Manitoba..."
No, the orange wave really stopped in Ontario, where the NDP's small 7-point rise but failure to capitalize upon those gains to provide counterbalance to the Conservatives allowed that party to earn a majority government.
Now, don't get me wrong, as the NDP's numbers in the West are historically weak - 32% in BC (vs. 37% high), 16% in AB (vs. 17% high), 32% in Saskatchewan (vs. 44% high), and 25% in Manitoba (vs. 33% high), which is roughly 28% in the Prairies (vs. a 38ish% high). There's definitely room to grow, and Dewar is right that the NDP need something of a "Western agenda," just as the Liberals do.
Let's get one thing clear here, though: the Conservatives have a lock on this region, and the NDP are unlikely to overturn it any time soon. Especially lead by a left-of-centre Ontarian. But I digress - let's do the math.
If we assume that the next election sees the NDP target at least its highs in each region, and we assume that most of those voters are taken from the Conservatives (which would need to happen, since the Liberal vote is, well, lol), here's what we'd get:
BC - 19 Con, 14 NDP, 2 Lib, 1 Grn
AB - 27 Con, 1 NDP
SK - 7 NDP, 6 Con, 1 Lib
MB - 9 Con, 4 NDP, 1 Lib
(PR - 15 Con, 11 NDP, 2 Lib)
In total, add on to their current numbers and you get 117 New Democrats.
Not exactly a surge of support, is it?
And let's be clear here that while a take over of Saskatchewan is entirely possible by the NDP, takeovers of Manitoba and BC are a lot harder than they seem, while Alberta will be impossible (said that about Quebec too, didn't we? Don't kid yourselves though - Alberta is nothing like Quebec).You'd be going up against entrenched conservatism and Conservative adherence that is simply not friendly towards the NDP, not like Quebec, with its quasi-federalist/nationalist social democratic population, something the NDP appealed to.
Here's a hint, NDP leadership candidates - especially ones from Ontario, like Dewar - focus on your home province. Ontario offers your best chance of picking up seats and effectively taking away from the Conservatives with less effort than is required to tackle the Western Conservative juggernaut.
Plus, let's face it - any successful non-Conservative coalition has been made up of Quebec and Ontario, not Quebec and Western Canada.
The NDP could easily win over 50 seats in Ontario if they applied themselves. So far, they haven't, and they're consistently behind the Liberals in polls in Canada's largest province. Twenty-two seats is not enough, Dippers - you need to at least double that.
So, Western agenda? Maybe. But how about an Ontario agenda as well? It's the place to grow.