Does Layton have the nerve? -

Does Layton have the nerve?

Getting the NDP onside is Harper’s best bet to save the government, but Layton sounds far from conciliatory

Does Layton have the nerve?

Photograph by Christopher Wahl

Jack Layton’s return to the floor of the House after hip surgery early this month prompted a rare outpouring of warmth in a bitterly partisan Parliament. As the NDP leader rose stiffly to acknowledge an ovation from all parties, his standing on the federal scene appeared higher than ever. Yet there was an undercurrent of political danger for him even in that moment. With the chance of a spring election growing by the day, would Conservatives and Liberals applaud Layton quite so warmly if they viewed him as a serious threat? At just 60 years old, and only eight years after entering federal politics, he seems at risk of turning into one of those figures, a Robert Stanfield or an Ed Broadbent, more respected than feared.

Still, he remains a man to watch in the pre-election jockeying now consuming Ottawa. The tabling of the budget next week, coming amid the flurry of ethics issues now buffeting Stephen Harper’s government, offers the three opposition parties ample opportunity to fell his Conservative minority—if they have the nerve. To survive, if indeed the Prime Minister wants to put off a campaign, he needs just one of them to vote with him. Layton looks like his best hope. In an interview with Maclean’s, though, he sounded far from conciliatory. He rhymed off measures he wants added to the budget on pensions, health, home-heating costs and home renovations. Asked to elaborate on how much buy-in from the Tories on what combination of these items might satisfy him, Layton declared, “It isn’t a buffet.”

All or nothing sounds like bluster, but Layton says Harper’s situation is comparable to what Paul Martin faced in 2005. Back then, with the Tories and Bloc Québécois salivating to bring down Martin’s scandal-weakened Liberal minority, Layton traded his support for $4.6 billion for NDP priorities like affordable housing and mass transit. Harper now faces charges his party cheated to overspend on ads in the 2006 election, allegations International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda lied to MPs, and accusations that his government denies parliamentarians basic information on how much implementing its policies will cost. It all adds up, Layton argues, to a good time for Harper to learn the virtues of compromise. “If you are going to work in a minority context,” he says, “you are going to have to do some things that you don’t totally agree with.”

Is Layton really in any position to dictate terms? The first questions Ottawa’s political insiders ask about him these days concern his health. A little more than a year ago, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Treatment was entirely successful, he says, as confirmed by “virtually undetectable” PSA levels in the blood test familiar to so many men. But Layton also had to contend with pain from a mysterious fracture to his hip, which worsened to the point where doctors decided to operate early this month. He won’t say exactly what the surgeons did, but allows that he’s now likely to set off airport metal detectors. He doesn’t know what caused the injury, but speculates that years of hard-fought squash games might have contributed. If the government falls next week, Layton says he’ll be fit to campaign, but concedes he would be hitting the hustings “in the recovery cycle from hip surgery.”

Sympathy won’t shield him from what is shaping up as a key Tory line of attack no matter when the campaign comes. Ever since the three opposition parties formed a coalition to try to replace him in the fall of 2008, Harper has been saying he needs a majority to prevent them from attempting it again. Asked repeatedly if he is open to participating in such a coalition after the next election, Layton studiously avoids uttering the “C” word. “I am somebody who has always said that I will work with other parties, always, and have done so,” he says. “So it will come as no surprise to anybody when they hear that I’m willing to work with other parties to get things done in the Parliament.”

That sounds like a yes. Harper contends, however, that if his Conservatives place first, but short of a majority, the opposition parties shouldn’t be allowed to join forces to govern without him. He points to what transpired after no party secured a majority in Britain’s election last year—the first-place Conservatives forming a coalition with the third-place Liberal Democrats. The lesson, according to Harper: “Winners are the ones who form governments.” Layton says he finds that “rather ironic,” since Harper invoked no such doctrine back in 2004, when Layton, Harper and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe jointly wrote then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson, asking her to consult them first—presumably to ask if they could all line up behind a Harper-led regime—if the Liberal minority of the day sought to dissolve Parliament and force an election.

The coalition issue remains so novel in Canada that how it might play out over a full campaign is impossible to predict. Public opinion turned against the concept in the fall of 2008, but a senior NDP campaign strategist says debate surrounding it could actually help them in an election. The NDP has long struggled against the reluctance of many voters to cast a ballot for a party that doesn’t stand much chance of winning. If the possibility of a coalition with the Liberals gains wider acceptance, the strategist says, then Layton’s platform will be have to be viewed more seriously as a potential part of that government policy. Winning outright won’t be everything anymore. Some NDP organizers hope that realization will force the media, and the public, to pay closer attention to Layton’s positions on the issues.

Just don’t expect the NDP and Liberals to mount anything resembling a coordinated campaign. In fact, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s strategists vow to pursue NDP voters as never before. They view the Tory vote as unusually solid. That leaves Ignatieff striving to draw traditional Liberal voters who stayed home in 2008 back to the polls, and tug NDP, Bloc and Green voters into their camp. He will try to create a polarized campaign mood, one in which left-of-centre voters fear a Conservative majority so much that they turn to the Liberals out of determination to deny Harper the ability to govern as he chooses.

But the NDP is, at the same time, zeroing in on a slice of the Liberal base in painstakingly identified ridings. NDP campaign director Brad Lavigne says the party spent last fall conducting its most detailed polling analysis ever into this “next tranche” of support, enough to lift them from the just over 18 per cent of the popular vote they won in the 2008 election to about the mid-20s. The new voters they need to grab are now overwhelmingly Liberal supporters. So Lavigne says the NDP campaign he’s ready to launch, including its ads, will take aim at Ignatieff, along with Harper. Layton, however, insists he has only one prime target. “Our campaign,” he said, “is against the Harper Conservatives and their policies.”

Layton needs to somehow broaden his party’s demographic. NDP support has traditionally been concentrated among younger voters, many in their 20s and 30s, and especially women. Lavigne says that next tier of potential NDP voters tend to be older and are equally likely to be male or female. They are also solidly middle class and probably live in “an average suburb.” Policies Layton is highlighting during his pre-budget positioning look custom-tailored for that audience. For those old enough to be worried about retiring, he stresses expanding the Canada Pension Plan. For middle-class families in their suburban homes, he’s asking the Tories to bring back the popular EcoEnergy incentives for home renovations.

Watch for the platform, however, to take a back seat to Layton’s leadership qualities in NDP ads. “Federal politics,” Lavigne says, “is more leader-centred than in the past.” As usual, Layton looks stronger than his party brand. A March 10 Angus Reid poll pegged his approval rating at 34 per cent, a shade better than Harper’s 32 per cent, and far better than Ignatieff’s 14 per cent. So Ignatieff’s standing badly lags Liberal support, and Harper’s is about equal with Tory popularity, while Layton’s rating is running in front of the NDP’s. Lavigne says that means Layton has more potential to lift his party. That’s assuming, of course, that his approval score has real potential to be converted into NDP ballots, and isn’t just the polling equivalent of a fond standing ovation in the House of Commons for a familiar, respected figure.


Does Layton have the nerve?

  1. Since the Conservative Party of Canada is so fond of reminding Canadians of the things that Mr. Ignatieff said a decade ago, here's what Mr. Harper had to say about the NDP in a speech to the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank:

    …the NDP is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men."

    I'm hoping that Mr. Layton will consider this when he muses over the decision regarding his support for the upcoming Budget.

    Here's the rest of what Mr. Harper had to say about the NDP:

    • The truth hurts does it?

      • Oh, you. Your side wouldn't know "the truth" if it dressed up in lingerie and asked for 20%.

        • Snap, HO!

        • My favorite comment of the week!!

    • You bring up a lot of good points alomst all the time (I didn't agree with your views on the census but that's fine) but this is one I can't fully agree with.

      I despise Harper but I don't think it's fair to bring up this speech when considering the potential alliance between the NDP and the CPC. Being a politician is about selling one thing: yourself. A good politician knows when to bite the bullet, a bad one is one who refuses to change his or her mind.

      Yes the speech was dowrigght insulting but that because of the audience (I don't doubt Harper believes parts of it but I'm not going to claim I know what he thinks), I have a hard time believeing that a man whom, according to this speech, has so much disdain for Canada would want to become Prime Minister.

      • Why not? The pay's decent, and if it's as bad as he thinks it is, surely he'd be able to manipulate it to his advantage.

        Oh look….

    • Oh really now, this is soooo dumb! It was an attempt at humour by Harper, using his opponents as the punch bag. Every politician says these sorts of things, especially at party conventions, etc. I'd be surprised if Layton was even mildly upset about this.

      • Ah, I see.

        Conservatives are Nazis. Ha ha, I was just joking. Everything's fine. Really.

    • Yes, and it is true. Our family did not fight in two world wars to enshrine marxist dogma in our constitution. You are now the enemy.

  2. I continue to be amazed that the Conservative view of parliamentary democracy (Coalition BAD!!!) continues to be taken seriously by anyone. Even Bloc participation is not necessarily evil as long as the majority partners keep them on a short leash.

    No-one seems to consider that such a government would give representation to more of the voters (60 % or so), and that Bloc members are in Ottawa because individual Canadians voted for them.

    • Canadians will surely reject any poalition that would allow the Bloq or the ndp to force concessions from a liberal minority or liberal-led coalition. Harper will demand that party leaders state honestly their post election actions in this regard.

      • But they're fine with when the Bloc or NDP forces concessions from a CPC minority?

        • There is a big difference; it's not at all subtle so as to not be easily noticed. Obviously a minority gov't needs another party to go along with them on a confidence vote to keep going. In this Parliament the CPC can horse-trade with each party, knowing it only needs one to give it well over majority support (in the 39th Parliament, it was almost the same, but CPC + NDP then was 154 seats bang on, which would have been enough with Milliken as Speaker).

          As each opposition party knows that the gov't only needs one of them, they will (or should) each self-regulate their demands of the gov't in order to ensure that it's their demands that will be met. If they make wild demands (see the Bloc's demands for the current budget) then they know that they will not be given serious thought by the gov't. (cont'd …)

        • (cont'd …)

          In The Coalition proposal, the Lib-NDP gov't would only have one partner to deal with (the Conservatives would never agree to support that gov't, after being ousted by them), and knowing that, the Bloc would of course raise their price for their support. It's just like a business that has one big client, instead of a number of medium-sized clients. In the former case, the big client has the business owner by the balls; whereas in the latter case, no one owner does.

          • Read the initial posting a little more carefully. Note the words "liberal minority", which basically takes your entire coalition point and deep-sixes it as irrelevant to my question.

    • I don't think the view is "Coalition bad!" That last coalition proposal was bad, that needed the Bloc's support on every confidence vote to keep on going. That would be bad for Canada. But are coalitions in themselves bad? No, of course not. If Libs and NDP together had 155 seats, then that would be fine. Well, I guess if they both had either 77 or 78 seats that it might lack some democratic legitimacy if the CPC had 145 seats (but BQ at 10 seats, and NDP at 77? Not happenin' anytime soon).

      (cont'd) …

    • cont'd from above …

      How would the Libs and NDP keep the Bloc on a short leash? The Bloc does not care about what's in the best interests of Canada as a whole … their whole purpose is to break up the federal polity!! So at anytime they could say "ok, you gotta give us this, or else we withdraw support for you, and feed you to the electorate", and does anyone here believe that that Lib-NDP coalition would then say "do your worst!" ?? Of course not, they would fold like a cheap shirt, everytime! I for one don't want the gov of Canada to be held at ransom. You may think I'm wrong in thinking that would occur, and you might be right. But it's plausible enough that I don't want to take that chance.

      • Actually it's not terribly plausible if you look at evidence as opposed to fear mongering. Of all the parties, the Bloc is the one that tends to keep its promises. We might not like what they stand for, but they stand for it with honour.

    • The problem in your reasoning is that the Bloc won't allow itself to don a leash. That's why Quebecers love them.

    • I'd be interested to see how many liberal votes would swing over to the conservatives if the opposition ran as a coalition in the next election. Possibly 1 from Saskatchewan, 4-5 from the east coast, 1-2 from B.C., another 5-6 from Ontario. They only need 12 more for the majority.

      • Ralph Goodale is the Liberal MP in Saskatchewan and you'll never ever get him out. His one of the few Canadian Politicians who could align himself with any party and still win based on his reputation alone.

  3. Only ideologues and partisans avoid compromising to make things better for the people they represent.

    • How do you compromise your position and not compromise what is best for Canadians?

      • Stop seeing things in black & white terms and you may come to realize there's a whole continuum between nothing and best. It's called better.

        Oddly enough, that's the exact word I used.

    • You can't compromise if you have nothing to offer or give up. I am tired of this extremist getting national attention. There is sufficient dirt on this party that the MSM ignores. Libby Davies alone could fill up the scandal page. Layton is neither harmless nor well meaning. He is promoting extreme leftwing ideology and must be denounced for the destruction he presents to this country. His personal dealings are questionable and he & wife have spent lavishly for a party that has recently polled as low as 13%. We need less Laytons.

  4. Come what may Layton will keep Harper in power one way or another because he is delusional. He and his advisors decided in 2006 that they would assist Harper in destroying the Liberal Party of Canada.
    What has Layton received in return? Absolutely nothing!

  5. The Liberals engineered their own defeat in Nov. 2005 because they thought they could regain their majority in a snap election. They purposely refused to make ANY concessions to the NDP and they purposely did everything they could to provoke the opposition parties to vote them down and cause an election. For once Paul "Dithers" Martin thought he had found his backbone said declared "make my day! force an election!". Of course it all backfired and the Liberals ran a dreadful campaign and lost the election. To this day, Liberals are still in denial and its 100% their own fault that they are no longer in power,. Instead they try to blame it on the NDP. The Liberal party needs to undergo some psychoanalysis and get over this complex of always refusing to accept any responsibility for its screw ups. There is one reason and one reason only why the Liberals are out of power – Liberal corruption and Liberal incompetence. They have no one to blame but themselves!!

    • Dereck, the liberals lost the election becuse of his keeping his campagin promise to have Adsam investiagted and no other reason. Get your facts straight. Canadians punished the liberals at the polls on that issue and by golly, Canadians have a lot more reasons to defeat thei propanda Dictator we call honoranle PM.NOT

      • A lot more reasons? Are you nuts? There is nothing coming anywhere near to the Sponsorship Scandal in the current gov't. Then there was HRDC, Shawinigate, Hep C, Gun Registry $2m to $1B, and I could go on. The Sponsorship Scandal was a truly BIG scandal, right up there and maybe bigger than the Pacific Scandal.


      • (cont'd …)
        Compare that to Harper, and now we're dealing with small potatoes. Not saying that the issues aren't important, they are, but let's keep some perspective please. I would love it if Canadians are becoming less tolerant in general of any gov't transgressions. If the Liberals got back into power after only 5 years out for the Sponsorship Scandal, that would in itself be a tragedy in my books. Of course, MacDonald got back into power after only 4 years after the Pacific Scandal, but that was b/c PM Mackenzie was viewed as an incompetent in his handling of the Long Depression that started in 1874. Harper is not viewed as an incompetent, but more the opposite. On that score, it's proven in our electoral history that Canadians will elect (or re-elect in MacDonald's case) a Bastard in place of an honest Bonehead (there's a book out there called Bastards and Boneheads, about Canadian PM's). Food for thought in this current election?

    • The Libs didn't engineer their own defeat. Layton claimed the Canada Health Act was being trampled, but I think most would agree that was an excuse. The Libs, if anything, might've thought going then would be better than going later, but in both cases they would've been under no illusions that the situation was bad for them.

      Agreed that it's ridiculous of them to blame the Dippers for their defeat, which brings their objective analysis into question. Agreed also that they need to undergo a root and branch overhaul, but they won't – and maybe can't – while we're in the minority setting.

  6. If there is any perception in the NDP that they risk credibility or even potential advantage if they don't go to an election now, then this is a potentially defining moment for anyone with aspirations to lead that party.

    If it is their leader's health is the thing blocking them from going to an election, then any such aspiring person ought to be working the phones among his (or her) caucus colleagues and other party luminaries to see if the leader can be asked to move aside now in favour of someone else

  7. Harper will say no to avoiding a $300 million election for billions we don't have wasted in marxist extortion. The ndp will lose if another election takes place. It is Ignatieff and Layton who should be talking right now. Canadians won't align Harper with the dealings of this Carson character, Oda is within her rights to say no to Kairos funding and any mis-step describing her process with her office to scribble the "no" on her own documents is no crime. The cost of any new program can be debateable and the opposition has shown how utterly unprofessional and petty they are at the crime bill committee hearing. Layton's strategy of attacking only the cons shows how weak they are. They can only draw from the libs or greens. Harper is the best choice for Canadians regardless of the petty scraps and pushy moves by the cons.

    • It doesn't matter how "petty" you think this issue is. It is CONTEMPT OF PARLIAMENT and that is not petty

  8. yes, citizens be damned.

  9. The only "acceding" would be agreeing on legislation that benefited all Canadians — such legislation would also benefit Quebec — and as such would get Bloc support. Harper was willing to get into bed with this particular devil not so long ago for his own purposes —

    • I think you should revisit your moniker. Duceppe would never agree to any new federal programs in Quebec … it's long-standing policy for them to demand that they get all the money that the feds would've spent in Quebec, but that they can set up a similar program exactly as they wish. I think that's a deal that most of us wish we could get in life!!!

      I'll assume you're referring to the 2004 letter to the GG … if so, then you have to be stupid to equate that with The Coalition agreement.

  10. Votes for any given MP come from that MP's riding. To say that the Bloc's votes come only from Quebec is about as valid as noting that Harper's votes all came from Calgary.

    As for the over 60% who didn't vote for Harper, it's true that they voted for different parties. Wouldn't it make sense that they then work together to represent the widest swath of Canadians?

    • Uh, but the Bloc's votes actually do only come from Quebec!!! (or am I missing something?)

      The Harper-Calgary link doesn't work … Harper as leader brings a lot of votes to all of the Conservative candidates nationwide.

      What would make even greater sense is if the biggest bloc of voters voting for one platform had the biggest say in eventual government policy, instead of a disparate 60% over four different voted-for platforms.

      Of course, democracy is self-correcting, so if the biggest bloc is denied, that will in most cases just serve to strenghen and enlarge the support for that bloc in the next elections. It's not in the longer-term interests of the other parties to see the largest bloc get even larger.

      But that's called "playing the long game", which it seems is most definitely not in vogue these days.

      • By definition, Harper's votes come only from his riding. I can't vote in his riding, just as I can't vote in Duceppe's.

        The Bloc is a legitimate political party. Their MPs are legitimately elected. They do, beyond the separatist thing, a pretty good job of representing the views of their constituents on a variety of issues. You don't have to like them or agree with them, but to try to suggest that Bloc MPs are somehow lesser than other MPs is simply not truthful.

        Beyond that, the Bloc has shown an ability to work with all of the other parties, including the Harper Party, on national issues.

        With more than 60% of Canadian voters supporting somebody other than Harper, having parties (including the Bloc) that can work together on issues where their policies are similar and compromise where their policies differ is far more representative of the greater Canadian public than having one party who represents a third of the electorate dictating policy.

  11. First, thank you for the article, Mr. Geddes.

    Second, I don't think the NDP will have much choice but to go to an election. This government clearly has some corruption issues. Four officials facing charges, two of them Senators. A minister facing contempt of parliament. The entire government facing charges of contempt on another issue. Former staffers being investigated by the RCMP.

    Throw in on top of that Harper's apparent reluctance to work with the NDP on anything of substance, the Conservative Senate killing a bill passed by the House without even debating it, and the general inability of this government to deal with anybody on a professional, adult basis, and I can't see a way for Layton to avoid an election.

    Do I think would rather not to an election right now? Sure he'd like to avoid it. The Harper Party has made that impossible though.

    • Corruption issues?!?! What, pray tell, are those?! The in-and-out thing is so much garbage, as Coyne wrote about this past week (read his article on it). No one has been convicted, unlike Liberal Senator Lavigne. I doubt they will get a conviction, but we'll see. As for the former staffer, in previous gov'ts such a thing would never have been investigated!!! It's only b/c of the CPC's Accountability Act that an investigation is even happening now, which was requested by the PMO.

      To call these corruption is to lump these "scandals" in with the likes of the Sponsorship Scandal, and to treat them the same!!! God help us if we do that!

      • Liberal Senator Lavigne was booted out of caucus as soon as the charges came to light. Why hasn't Harper booted his charged Senators? The Accountability Act is a joke. It would be an even bigger joke if the NDP hadn't pushed the Conservatives to do more.

        Sponsorship was one scandal and it centred around what amounted to personal greed. The Conservatives are having a scandal a day lately…mostly having to do with attempts to undermine our democracy. That the Conservatives try to downplay the importance of these scandals just shows that lack the courage of their professed convictions.

        Here's a thought though…if you don't want us to talk about Conservative scandals, why not get a hold of your party, preferably by the throat, and tell them to smarten up? Then there will be nothing for us to talk about.

        • Senator Lavign was charged with fraud and will be convicted. The senators are innocent un til proven guilty.
          Your scandal a day is partisan talk for alledged scandal, but little to back it up. All parties are made up of individuals. Some of these people were not elected, just appointed or previous advisors. They are free to sin without it being party policy. Obviously you are not a reverend but a rear-end.

          • " Senator Lavign was charged with fraud and will be convicted. The senators are innocent un til proven guilty."

            Wow, talk about your double standards. I have no doubt that Lavigne is guilty, but the idea that he's guilty before being proven guilty and Conservative senators are innocent until proven guilty shows the Conservative double standard very clearly. Thanks for that Bluescot.

            " Your scandal a day is partisan talk for alledged scandal, but little to back it up."

            It's your boys and girls that keep getting into trouble, Bluescot. Oda, In and Out, Carson, withholding documents, Carson, etc.. These aren't minor things.

            "Some of these people were not elected, just appointed or previous advisors."

            They were appointed or hired by this government.

            I'll not return your childish personal insults except to note that such outbursts are common from the Conservatives.

    • More like the NDP refusal to play ball, not the Cons. Layton is so far out in left field it is hard to tell if he is even in the ball park most days.

  12. Way, way, WAY too much effort is spent trying to knock each other out of power. If everyone agrees that government is there to provide the best for the people, all of the posturing and political wrangling is ridiculous. We should be able to have a well-managed country, with an honest prime minister- and representatives- who are willing to work together, compromise, and move on, without acting like kids in a sandbox!

    • Everyone has a different opinion of "best for the people." That's the hurdle – the role of government isn' in question.

    • You are fooling yourself to expect parties with opposing ideologies to work together or compromise. We need a majority to get things done.

  13. Sure, Layton has the nerve to send his party in oblivion like the Liberals. Unfortunately, the NDP for decades were taking money from people who did not support them through their unions that they had to belong to in order to food on the table. I am glad that the government straightened out that violation of the human rights charter. Now all they have to do is straighten out the other violations of human rights that people that are forced to endure under unions that have closed shops.

  14. Jack Layton has no hope of ever forming a government, although he has some incredible expensive ideas that would plummet our country into major debt. So he may as well support the Government.

  15. Layton was on Power & Politics today … said "contempt of Parliament is a game-changer" but as for the budget, he will have to wait to see what is in it … Hmmm … I think I read/saw that Coyne guy saying something about how the NDP will send a message on the contempt, and say that is enough … and then support the govt on the budget …

    That being said, it is painful to watch Jack … he doesn't look well and despite all NDP bravado, I don't think he is up to an election … makes me queasy that this factor will no doubt be used in the bargaining/face-saving/bullying/bluffing that has so plagued this minority Parliament …

  16. Jack kind of reminds one like a snake. slittering back and forth. An opportunist who just may have to face his parties distain. Retiremnet sounding good right about now Jack? Quit snivilling and start acting like a real man for a change. Support this lame government one more time Jack and lose your supporters. Sounds like an easy choice for me. Support a scoundrel yet again will most likey send you into early retirement 1.26 Cents a day increase in Retirees pensions worth that to you Jack?

  17. "“Our campaign,” he (Mr.Layton) said, “is against the Harper Conservatives and their policies.” …….as how any campaign should be.

    Layton and his party at least stand for something in contrast to the Tories, and it would be much better for Canada if we had two obvious choices – the NDP and the Tories.

    But Layton does need to brush up on the understanding of coalitions, because I don't think he could find an example world wide, where a separatist party is to be part of a governing coalition.

    Yeah, yeah, they try to sidestep that by saying the BQ isn't really 'in' but with the BQ not being in, there is no coalition possible. It is really that simple.

    • If the seats were the same, then yes, the BQ would be required 100% of the time, and that would be bad, or at least that's my opinion.

      If it's Libs+NDP > 154, then they will get together, though it would be better if the Libs were the bigger party by far, and at least in the neighbourhood of the CPC seat total.

      If the national parties actually put the country ahead of their own party's interests, they would agree to always form majority coalitions and freeze out the Bloc MP's at every turn, and also divvy up the electoral map in Quebec, until such time as the Bloc went away.

    • See Spain, where the Catalan nationalist CiU party served a very similar role to what was proposed for the BQ in the 2008 coalition in support of two Spanish governments (left and right) in the 1990s (not a formal coalition partner, but provided ongoing legislative support). Zapatero's current government also depends on the support of Catalan and Basque nationalist parties.
      See Italy, where the Northern League has been part of various Berlusconi coalition governments over the years.
      See Iraq, where the president of the coutnry is also secretary-general of the Kurdish PUK.

      Whether you respect or agree with any of these governments, or the 2008 Coalition proposal is immaterial, there are examples.

  18. The CPC was the last choice among a majority of Canadians, this from a poll back near the end of 2005. (And I wish I could find it again..)

    I keep hoping someone does an update of that poll today. I think that'd be an interesting one to see.

      • Obviously I wasn't clear enough for you.

        Those polls your link refers to all measure first choice. There was at least one which asked people about who they'd most prefer was NOT government. CPC topped that one by over 50%.

        Ergo, even though no party could gain more than 40% support for the entire period.. over half of Canadians were able to get together on which party they didn't want. Unfortunately for them, they weren't able to get together on who they did. So we got the NDP/Liberal/Green split, giving enough room for a minority of Canadians to make the CPC the gov't, even though more than half specifically didn't want that outcome.

  19. To be fair to Layton, he and the NDP were in danger in late 2005 of having the Liberal stench of corruption increasingly attach itself to them if they kept supporting that gov't, and so it was in their longer-term interest to break off their accord. I have to laugh at Liberals who are basically saying "you should've supported us even through all the Sponsorship Scandal stuff". They just didn't get it, and many (I hope it's not most, though somedays I wonder) still don't get it.

    The thing is, the opposition parties have so demonized the Conservatives (even before they were in power) with their base that they've closed off that avenue in terms of a possible coalition partner. As seen in Ireland, and in Holland in the past, the centre-right and left parties have been able to work together in government. That would be a very high ask in Canada.

    • I would see it more as the Conservatives having alienated themselves from the other parties to the extent that nobody wants to work with them. Harper has screwed the NDP a couple of times when they tried to work with him. They've personally attacked NDP MPs constantly too, including the ridiculous "Taliban Jack" ranting by Conservative MPs.

      Why would the NDP work with the Conservatives on anything at this point? The Conservatives have shown themselves to be untrustworthy, petty, and incapable of compromise.

      • Why would the PM agree to Layton's $billions inj demands vs a $300 million election?
        What is best for Canada? Listen to the attacks on the PM recently by taliban jack. Layton signed the nomination papers for a female muslim to run in Montreal. She lost, but was found to have direct connections to Al Qaeda.
        Your name-calling whine is pathetic. Socialism is not compatible with christian values, reverend.

        • Nobody expected Harper do give the NDP, Liberals or the Bloc everything they wanted, but what they did put on the table was laughable. The whole point of a parliamentary system is based on cooperation (especially when it comes to a minority government) and the conservatives have proven time and time again that they have no intention of cooperating with anyone. They either don't understand how parliament operates, or they don't respect it. And I'm sorry to say Socialism is compatible with christian values much more so than greedy conservative values where the rich get richer off the hard work of the poor.

  20. Like all dippers Layton is an opportunist.
    Not sure which party I will vote for yet but it will NOT be the one that forces the expense of an election on taxpayers before Harpers five years are up.

    • Y'mean 4 years … next election is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2012, by the fixed election date law.

      • Hahahaha! Good one!

    • So you voted against Harper in the last election then?

  21. Liberals, NDP Bloc and Green Party will all merge into a new party called the National Peoples Party. They will be green, support unions, promote a green energy act and act fiscally responsible. They will protect the North, they will protect the poor and seniors, they will create a meaningful society that cares for people, including people in other countries. After all, we the people pay them to govern, shouldn't it all be about us and helping our neighbours. Maybe one day our neighbours will help us.

  22. Come on Jack, the media are daring you, no their double daring you to go along with the Liberal agenda… if you don't… then the media will call you names, like 'chicken" . Come on Jack, don't stand in the way of the Liberal/Separatist/ Media agenda… they might smear you.

  23. The upcoming elections, I think, are proof that all the parties need new leadership. Stephen Harper has his head buried in the sands– can't trust him. Michael Ignatieff says that he wants to lead the country, but he could have forced elections when he became leader of the Liberals, so why didn't he? Because the Liberals didn't want to govern at the time. And Jack Layton? He couldn't walk to the depanneur and back because of his hip, let alone campaign across Canada.

    I don't mean to hold age against anybody, but sometime it has to out with the old and in with the new.

  24. Layton is clealy an ignorant opportunist. I never liked him and I never will. If he had a brain, he'd be speaking out here:

    His silence tells you everything you need to know about this LOSER ! -but that's just my opinion.

    • I guess I was mean here, sorry Jack, that was not nice. I changed my mind though…i think,,,

  25. who's version?

  26. "He (Layton) doesn't know what caused the (hip) injury, but speculates that years of hard-fought squash games might have contributed."

    Prostate cancer metastases to the bone, specifically the hip…is not uncommon. Any time you have certain forms of cancer and suddenly get unexplained bone fractures…it's a pretty good bet it's spread to the bone…which is unfortunately not good news at all.

    Certainly Jack's doctor(s) and likely Jack know this very well. If true it would indicate his health is much worse than they are letting on publicly. Would that mean that he's not up to the rigors of the campaign trail?…or would it spur on (what would amount to) Jack Layton's "farewell tour" in a flurry of publicity?

    Based on Layton's apparent passion to be in the public eye…I suspect the latter.

  27. Are you that ignorant or just emulating your hero Steve?

  28. I am beginning to think that politicians are nothing but windowdressing. Democracy involves the reasonable application of the law and it isn't happening.

  29. Is Layton strong enough to do what? Cause an election that no one wants and that costs millions of dollars – only to end up in the same situation we have now. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc are jokes who don’t care about Canadians – only about taking over the running of the country. So they can do what? Sit around arguing about how to get us more into debt and throw some money at Quebec – wow – what a great change that will be!

    • Well, it'd be a change from the history of the Liberals in recent times.

      Remember who got us out of deficit in the first place? Think hard. Here's a hint.. it wasn't the NDP, and the CPC didn't exist yet.

  30. Layton is just a nice guy with a big heart. He's not going to change anything,

    This one letter by Bob has more eloquence, more persuasive clout and more moral authority than ANYTHING that Jack Layton has ever done:

    That's his problem. He does not have the gravitas of an intellectual like Michael Ignatieff.

    Isn't that why Bob Rae joined the Liberals –He's a Rhodes Scholar?