As about 1,000 NDP delegates converge on Halifax this weekend for the party’s federal convention they can probably count on a warm reception.

The challenge is how to extend that support to the rest of the country

It’s good timing that the federal NDP convention is being held in Halifax, given that Nova Scotians just took by far their hardest swing towards the party in the province's history with June’s election results.


But as Premier Darrell Dexter settles into his majority government, the national wing continues to languish in fourth place behind the usual Liberal/Conservative mainstream and a single-province separatist party in the Bloc Quebecois.

Even with the Liberals weakend in the last election, the NDP was only able to scratch out a less than one per cent increase in the popular vote.

So many eyes will be on Dexter this weekend to try to find a way to replicate his provincial success, and the premier offered some advice Thursday.

“I would like the federal party to focus on what are really bread and butter issues to the people of the country,” Dexter told reporters. “They are associated with income security, they are associated with where our economy is going over the next number of years.”

“You know, those kinds of issues are ones I think are going to be on the top of mind for people when the next election is called and therefore should be top of mind for the party.”

Dexter said he speaks often with federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, and praised him for working to modernize the party.

But as for the well-publicized proposal at the convention to drop the “New” from the New Democratic Party, Dexter isn’t a fan.

“We’ve spent a lot of years here trying to get people to vote for the New Democratic Party -- which they did -- so I’m perfectly satisfied with that,” he said.

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