Tory, Liberal or NDP - take your pick. All three have something in common, leaders who don't really connect with the Canadian public.
Layton was to have used the Harper ascendancy to move the New Democrats into something approaching second place. That's why he's attacked both the Harper government and the Libs at every turn. Unfortunately when you break out to move up through the pack there's a price you pay for it. You lose your opportunity to influence policy, to make a difference, because you're seen for what you are, just an opponent.
Finally, when an election does arrive, there's the risk you'll be seen as having run out of steam. Your positions are old and, frankly, boring. It's that "oh, not again" syndrome. The effect on the New Democrats is already being seen in the polls where, recently, public support has been found as low as 12 and 13%.
I won't go on about Dion, if only because I'd like to take a break from that for a day.
SHarper, however, is proving to be the best thing the Tories have done for the Libs or the NDP. Canadians don't trust him, at least not enough to give him a majority government. He's the one at the cocktail party you keep an eye on to make sure he's not pocketing the good silver. He's ultra-secretive and a known control freak. Best of all, there's nothing remotely charming about the guy. He's a stiff. A mere circulatory system away from being a corpse.
We may be headed for an election but it'll be one where all three parties seem dead from the neck up.