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The Tories and the NDP -- areas for agreement

Suprisingly, I think there are areas of common interest that could sustain an informal coalition in a new Parliament.

For instance, on the issue of auto jobs, the NDP platform is something a conservative could work with:

[NDP Leader Jack] Layton said adoption of his plan on the auto industry will be a core element for the party, no matter who forms government after the Jan. 23 election.

"Any political party hoping to work with us in the next Parliament had better understand that an early, comprehensive, effective auto strategy must be part of the agenda," he told autoworkers.

Speaking in this Toronto-area community, which is bracing for 3,000 job cuts at General Motors, Layton said there needs to be a commitment to research and development and targeted incentives that will allow the industry to retool for the production of more energy-efficient vehicles.

In addition, he says free-trade talks with Japan and Korea should ensure that those markets are open to Canadian-made vehicles.

The NDP also wants improved border transportation links to help with the flow of Canadian manufactured auto parts to the United States.

Normally I don't like corporate welfare, but helping a firm develop a niche skill seems reasonably constrained and controllable.

Free trade with other countries? You'll get no argument there.

Better transportation to support all trade with the US? Sounds good to me.

Other elements of the NDP platform would be non-starters with a Conservative government, but then Layton and the NDP have to be realistic, and I think they would be. The form of medicare would be a major problem point, but then maybe all sides will have to be realistic and shelve any plans they have to reform it. Or maybe not -- the future is murky.

Then there is always horse-trading behind the scenes. It's not pretty, but that's a minority government for you.

Is Jack Layton thinking along those lines? Sounds like he wants to make sure that there are no hard feelings with the Conservatives following this election:

Stephen Harper has become the devil Canadians know and is no longer as scary as Liberals make him out to be, New Democrats said today as they tried to counter the notion an NDP vote is a wasted ballot.

When it comes to issues such as same-sex marriage and the Charter of Rights, the Conservative leader is not evil - he's simply "wrong," said NDP Leader Jack Layton.

"Canadians look at Mr. Harper and say he's wrong on the issues; he doesn't share the values most people have."

Wrong, but not scary. You can always work with someone who is wrong.

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