Will the NDP wake up and respond to the threat the Greens pose?
It's been interesting listening to the post-debate analyses. One theme keeps coming up and that is that Elizabeth May impressed a lot of people. As Andrew Coyne pointed out in the CBC's post-debate "At Issue" panel, the debate cemented the Greens' place on the national stage. Talking to people around here, I'm surprised to hear the chord that the Greens seem to be striking with a lot of people. Some of this is a "none of the above" vote; the Greens have never been in power anywhere and are fresh and new, so people see this as a way of registering dissatisfaction. Other people find their policies refreshing: it's pro-environmental and socially progressive without without the baggage of the traditional NDP.
Thinking back to the debates, I've been struck with how little the other leaders engaged her. There was the odd "Elizabeth is right" as a preface to a statement, but generally they didn't argue with her or challenge the Greens. Right now the polls have the Greens at around 10%. These are votes that could be going to the Liberals and especially to the NDP. Since this level of unconcentrated support means the GPC will likely not elect anyone, these votes are essentially lost. I'm very surprised we haven't seen Jack Layton or Stephane Dion not explicitly calling for people not to waste their votes by voting Green. Dion's alliance with May probably rules that our for the Liberals, but Jack Layton is not bound by any such arrangement. It seems the NDP's response to the Greens (besides disdain) has been to ignore them in the hope that they will just fade away.
Given that the party was a non-entity in 2000, its growth has been explosive. Even if the party doesn't win a seat, it will be difficult to exclude its leader from the next leaders' debate. Going into this election, there was some speculation about the NDP supplanting the Liberals on the left. It's possible that when we look back at 2008, the story might be that the Greens took a big step towards supplanting the NDP.