Jack Layton could be facing a divided party at this weekend’s federal NDP convention in Halifax — and it might not have to do with any specific policy initiative.

A debate over whether to rename the party by dropping the "New” from the New Democratic Party has emerged as a hot-button issue for the convention, which runs tomorrow through Sunday at the Metro Centre.

Layton told Metro Halifax yesterday he isn’t taking a stance either way.

"This is the kind of thing that is up to our delegates to decide,” he said, refusing to budge either way when pressed on the matter.

"We have our policy conventions and discussions of strategy, and I don’t want to preempt an open discussion on these topics.”

Whether the party leaves Halifax named NDP or DP — for Democratic Party — Layton feels his party is going into the convention strong. However, some question whether the party has made the gains it should have as of late, particularly in last fall’s election.

Such questions have led to talk that the NDP could be taking several new policy directions this weekend.

"I think people are warming up everywhere (to us),” said Layton, referring to the fact there are now two provinces with NDP governments — Nova Scotia and Manitoba — and that they have MPs in eight of 10 provinces.

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