OTTAWA — While it's "obvious" the NDP is down at the moment, former leader Ed Broadbent said Thursday he's confident of a revival — thanks in large part to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau's decision to abandon a Liberal pledge on electoral reform is just one of many political opportunities for New Democrats, Broadbent said in an interview Thursday on the sidelines of the Progress Summit — an event held annually in Ottawa by the institute that bears his name.
"I think there will be a revival of the party now, in part because of what Trudeau has not delivered," Broadbent said.
Trudeau "chickened out" on tackling income inequality by failing to increase capital gains taxes in the most recent federal budget, Broadbent said, pointing to remarks Trudeau made in Hamburg, Germany where the prime minister suggested leaders need to 'get real' about tackling the issue.
"When companies post record profits on the backs of workers consistently refused full-time work — and the job security that comes with it — people get defeated," Trudeau told business leaders in the February address.
"Increasingly, inequality has made citizens distrust their governments, distrust their employers. It turns into 'us versus them'."
Broadbent said he suspects Trudeau backed down in the face of opposition from elites, adding he had hoped to see a change to capital gains taxes in the fiscal blueprint.
"For me personally, the Hamburg speech was a sign of optimism," he said. "So ... to be candid, I expected a more progressive budget ... You make progress in government by changing policy and he didn't do that."
Broadbent also said he is pleased with the depth of talent that has so far come forward in pursuit of the party leadership, up for grabs this October.
"There's a rebuilding effort going on," he said.
There are four MPs in the running to replace Tom Mulcair: Manitoba's Niki Ashton, Quebec's Guy Caron, B.C.'s Peter Julian and Ontario's Charlie Angus.
Ontario deputy NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is also considering a bid.
Broadbent led the party from 1975 to 1989.
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Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press