NDP membership increase not as great as you might think

In some ways the New Democrats are still Canada's third party.

The NDP released membership numbers Tuesday claiming to have 128,351 card-carrying members across the country. That's an increase of about 45,000 members since the start of the leadership campaign in October.

The NDP are touting the increase as "massive" and "historic."

"Canadians are really engaged and involved in our leadership race — as these historic numbers show," New Democrat National Director Chantal Vallerand said in a party release.

"Canadians are turning to New Democrats in record amounts in order to defeat Stephen Harper and elect a Prime Minister for all Canadians."

Brad Lavigne, the Principal Secretary to interim leader Nycole Turmel tweeted: "#NDP membership grows by 44,527 since October to 128,351. Jack would be proud."

But as Conservative insider Stephen Taylor pointed out in his blog, the numbers aren't as great as the NDP would want you to think.

Taylor compares the NDP numbers to the Conservative party and Liberal party numbers during their most recent leadership races.

He notes that in the lead up to the 2004 Tory leadership convention, the Conservatives signed up 109,000 new members for a total of 251,000 members.

The Liberals, he says, signed up 92,000 new members in the three month window leading up to their last leadership convention in 2006.

There are also other examples that diminish the NDP's membership tallies.

Alice Funke of Punditsguide.ca notes the Bloc Quebecois have 36,341 members in Quebec compared to the NDP's 12,266.

Provincially the governing Liberals in British Columbia signed up 50,000 new members during their leadership campaign in 2011.

"These are not at all great numbers for Canada's official opposition," Taylor writes.

Indeed, it appears Jack Layton's party has long way to go.

(Reuters photo)