Gary Burrill needs to stand up

Election campaigns are all about momentum, or at least the appearance of momentum.

The late Jack Layton knew this when he led the federal NDP to official opposition 10 years ago against all personal and political odds.

The party entered the 2011 campaign low in the polls. Its leader, who had recently endured prostate cancer and hip surgery, was forced to hobble around with a cane.

And yet, as the campaign unfolded, Layton was able to present himself as the most dynamic and vigorous of the party leaders.

He toured the country relentlessly, made an incredible number of high-energy appearances, and practically leapt off the campaign bus wherever he went.

Turning his walking aid into a humanizing prop, he engaged with and electrified Canadians who had never before voted NDP. He became a folk hero in Quebec, where he was called “le bon Jack” and led an “Orange Crush” that swept the province.

With the memory of that historic campaign still fresh, why does the Nova Scotia NDP insist on putting its leader on his rear end at each day’s media availability?

A seated politician is a boring politician, at least when cameras are around.

Everyone knows this, except the strategists who appear determined to make Gary Burrill seem as dull as possible.

Admittedly, COVID-19 makes this a more difficult campaign with fewer opportunities to engage with large numbers of people.

But there is no excuse for having Burrill sitting on his duff while the other leaders criss-cross the province, standing, walking, and running in front of cameras whose output means so much in this digital age.

The NDP leader is more intelligent, articulate, and compassionate than his PC and Liberal opponents. Perhaps his handlers are hoping these qualities will come through in the sit-down sessions with concerned Nova Scotians.

But Burrill’s people seem to forget their guy is also older and arguably less charismatic than the other leaders.

Having him sit around for policy chit-chats on a daily basis accentuates these “negatives” and robs the NDP campaign of any sense of urgency or direction.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

Burrill has a solid vision document in his back pocket, he’s the only leader who isn’t a campaign rookie, and his opponents aren’t exactly knocking their opportunities out of the park.

Iain Rankin is drowning in controversy over the alleged mistreatment of his former Dartmouth South candidate and his unconvincing, last-minute drunk-driving admission.

Meanwhile, Tim Houston is heading up a lacklustre campaign centred around a gimmicky and anemic platform.

If Gary Burrill can just stand up, get moving, and project some type of dynamism, maybe he can conjure some Jack Layton magic.