Michael Ignatieff, for whom this corner has not historically carried a torch, has had a very good hour. First he put Stephen Harper on a leash. Then, all by himself, Jack Layton went out on a limb and energetically sawed the branch off behind himself.

Jack Layton’s best five months in Ottawa began on the night in 2005 when he announced, alone among opposition leaders, that he wanted to “make this Parliament work.” He extorted concrete policy concessions from the Liberals, avoided a hasty election, made Stephen Harper look like a cranky obstructionist, demonstrated the utility of a vote for the NDP. Today he decided to do none of that. Layton demonstrated there is no conceivable action by this government  that he will support. He can’t afford an election. He has lost his coalition partner. And after running the 2006 election against the Liberals and the 2008 election as a putative prime minister, he has marginalized his party well away from real decisions about power.

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  1. Wow.

    I had the complete opposite reaction — good day for Layton, bad for Ignatieff (who has now Dioned himself).

    But Wells is good at these things, so…


    • Sure. But he’s been wrong before. Just ask him. He’ll tell ya.

      • Ah yes. It was 1992…

        • May 12 , I think it was. I’ve been keeping a record.

          • Wasn’t that the time he thought he’d made a mistake, but it turned out he was wrong – he’d been right the first time?

          • Nice.

    • My reaction was more in line with Tiger.

      I don’t think MI did himself any favours today.

      The SH government clearly had little room to maneuver coming out of prorogue. They were forced to deliver a budget that SH was be furious about. But, I think MI has now allowed that momentum and control to dissipate.

      MI made clear he had a single condition for budget support, a set of explicit criteria, and that he would not support a budget that did not meet those criteria.

      Today, his criticism made it clear that it did not fully address those criteria. But rather than stick to those criteria, as he suggested he would, he then said he will support it anyway. With one condition, passing an amendment that in no way spoke to rectifying the failings of the budget according to those criteria.

      A more substantive amendment that addressed the real issues he ‘cared’ about (e.g., EI reform) along with the reporting requirement may have even been able tor bring along the NDP (perhaps not Jack does look a bit, uhmm, over the edge today).

      The costs I see:

      1) he has invited scathing criticisms via comparison to Dion (e.g., Dion used to criticize legislation than support it; this continues Dion’s voting record with the Libs now voting with the CPC for the 45th time; Dion used to be in a de facto coalition with SH).

      2) foregone substantive revisions to the budget that marked a much clearer shift in power (do you think Canadians at the polls would have been more likely to remember a new reporting requirement for them to ignore or changes to the budget that actually helped them?)

      3) he has forgone the ability to use the coalition as a threat by not making an effort to work with the NDP on possibilities to keep it alive in the background.

      4) it ignites two campaigns against MI today. one subtle and one not. JL has started to go full negative. essentially reviving the CPC/NDP campaign against DIon as per 1). SH will support the amendment so as to reduce the daylight between he Libs and the CPC. The Libs risk potentially continuing to bleed votes in both direction.

      Many of those that really wanted an end to the CPC and/or coalition go left. And the CPC look more centrist, where a month ago they looked like raving lunatics headed to the wilderness, potentially absorbing centrist Liberals.

      He has now not only reinforced the Lib/NDP split but has done it in a manner that provides SH more breathing room by making the story not about this terrible budget and its regressive policy (I am sure women would not have wanted MI to underline the end of qual pay for equal work legislation and demand it be dropped!) but about the liberals and their lack of fortitude.

      On the reporting requirement, I don’t think it is terrible. But 1) it would have looked better in combo (“Tell us how yo are doing at implementing our agenda!”) and 2) we all know the problems with government performance reporting (don’t forget JF is at the helm and just dropped us a$15M deficit prior to any of this spending).

      Good governance is seeming like a more and more impossible dream.

      • Wow, SAM, are you in my head somewhere? That is EXACTLY what I was thinking, only you’ve made it a bit more coherent. So thanks. Wait, did you get the EI part in there? Oh, yes, there it is. Wow.

        • Not sure. If I am I would be happy to be living the Being Jenn/John Malkovich experience . As long as I can still go for a walk by the ocean this afternoon.

          I am glad that I am not alone in my assessment… I still don;t get it.

  2. On the other hand, he may just want to talk a bit tougher if he’s welcoming liberals who don’t like Iggy to the NDP, while the consequences for Canada become less dire as the threat of a Conservative majority recedes.

    • Right now, if you’re a Liberal watching Stephen Harper explode like the budget had allocated $50 billion to stuff fireworks up his rear while Jack Layton simultaneously reverts to the “raving lunatic ideologue” mode that worked so well for the NDP for twenty years, how can you not like Ignatieff? Hell, I’ve voted Conservative every time I’ve been eligible to cast a ballot and I might go Liberal just because Iggy seems to know what reality looks like.

      • It might take more than one conservative delivered budget to convince people that Iggy is not from the righter wing of the party.

      • “Right now, if you’re a Liberal watching Stephen Harper explode like the budget had allocated $50 billion to stuff fireworks up his rear while Jack Layton simultaneously reverts to the “raving lunatic ideologue” mode that worked so well for the NDP for twenty years, how can you not like Ignatieff? ”

        Lord Bob, exactly why do you credit Ignatieff for the above? I’m not following. What has Iggy done to provoke this? From where I’m sitting, he didn’t do a single thing. Harper and Layton put themselves in this situation. Iggy is simply benefitting from their mistakes.

        • I wasn’t so much trying to credit Ignatieff as saying the Libs probably wouldn’t be inclined to rock the boat.

      • watching Stephen Harper explode like the budget had allocated $50 billion to stuff fireworks up his rear

        LOL.. Now that’s what I call stimulus!

    • Who could talk tougher than Iggy ? He’s been huffin’ and puffin’ around the school yard for the past two months. Clenched fists, gritted teeth and all. Good show. But it really did look like amateur hour summer theatre. Layton is right …… er, correct. Why not say it ?

  3. For the past couple of years, I have thought Layton would be PM if he was leader of either Libs or Cons because I think he’s the best leader of the bunch.

    But the past few months have not been kind to Jack, he’s come across as having a tin ear and rather petty because all I’ve heard him say is that he no longer ‘trusts’ Harper and that he would be voting against budget no matter what. Something is really putting him off his game because there is no way the message he’s getting from Canadians is that he should vote against this budget regardless of what’s in it.

    And his whinging about not ‘trusting’ Harper, or his impersonation of a dumped 16 year old today (good observation Aaron), is embarrasing. I think Olivia needs to have a talk with him.

    • And oddly enough, if Bob Rae had been a Conservative or Liberal when he was premier, he’d probably be prime minister today.

      • Agreed. I think Bob is a rather talented pol but his ideas/policies were completely unacceptable.

        • If his ideas and policies had come under a label from either of the two major parties, they would have been considered a tough call in tough times.

      • I doubt that. Did any leader (Canadian or otherwise) from that period survive the economic climate of the early 1990s?

  4. I think that Layton has run his course and it’s time to let someone else take the reins of the NDP. Peter Stoffer would be a good choice.

    • I agree. I think its time for him to go. The coalition ruined him. Its left him looking like a toddler mid tantrum.

      Score one for the Libs!

  5. Jack Layton. Not a coalition partner.

  6. Now that sticker shock is wearing off, I simply have to say that you have to love canadian politics from one day to the next you can never be quite sure that the date you just made will actually show up for the event. I wonder now if Jack’s people aren’t going to start to calling up Steve’s people saying evil meanie Iggy isn’t our love match anymore. Gillie .. well … they don’t like dating outside their circle anyways. So I guess it all boils down to the issue of whether or not we got a budget we can live with and when all is considered and done – things could be worse (typical real canadian response).

  7. After Dion was tortured for voting again for the gov’t, Ignatieff deliberately adds 3 extra opportunities to his calendar? Too clever by half.

    • The difference between Ignatieff and Dion is that Ignatieff comes across as being much calmer. He may not like the Conservatives being in charge, but he didn’t beat the war drums leading up to the confidence vote like Dion seemed to with monotonous regularity. After the thrid or fourth time you embarassingly back down when people are expecting you to force an election, they stop taking you seriously. Ignatieff left people with the impression that he was likely going to support the budget so he’s not going to get ridiculed to same extent as Dion (and it probably won’t be effective if he is) because he didn’t raise everyone’s expectations.

      • “The difference between Ignatieff and Dion is that Ignatieff comes across as being much calmer. ”

        Nonsense. The difference is that Iggy doesn’t have a french accent.

        • and look as physically feeble.

          • The scary professor thing works well for him to. You believe his threats.

            I wouldn’t want to be on that leash.

  8. First of all, anyone who knows me knows that I pray toward Jack Layton five times a day. That said, I don’t understand how you can say this, Paul, when Layton has made it abundantly clear over the past few months that he doesn’t trust Harper. So how could he justify trusting Harper now without looking like a gullible fool?

    • Robert, the budget is going to pass anyways. Ignatieff tried to put an additional leash on Harper, and Layton refused to allow him to do so and thus the budget will pass unamended.

      Whether he is a gullible fool or an incompetent one, he is still a fool

    • He doesn’t have to trust. He could have verified: four times a year.

      • Has verifying that the Conservatives are incompetent and untrustworthy ever meant anything in the past? Oh well, enjoy the scorpion’s sting.

        • I dont see how Layton can argue against holding this government to account. Similar words are flying out of his mouth on a regular basis.

          • Jack was ready to hold them to account 45 times. The Liberals weren’t. Somethings changed ?

          • Nothing’s changed, Sisyphus. JL was, is, and ever shall remain a petulant, irrational, sanctimonious, narcissistic nitwit who votes against the public interests he pretends to defend at crucial moments. Have we forgotten that SH is PMSH only because JL defeated the most progressive (by NDP lights) budget in Canada’s history when PMPM was PM?

        • The election which ejects Steven Harper from Canadian political life won’t be held among a bunch of people who’ve known for years that he’s the proverbial scorpion. The electorate that actually has to be consulted was giving the man mid-40s electoral support after he suspended Canada’s democracy like a Stuart monarch.

          The point of the verification exercise is not for us to plumb the mysterious depths of Harper’s character. Since early December we’ve known that he’s beyond the pale of Canadian parliamentarism. The point is -Canadians’- certainly don’t think this. The budget implementation process is a test designed for Harper to fail and show bad faith , and be seen by all to do so.

          • Now that’s a good point!

          • I’d accept this Jason except that it assumes two things… that Canadians will pay attention to the verifications when they occur, and, that there will be clear demarcation of Harper failure.

            I don;t think either can be assumed.

            For example, Canadians have just been informed by the PBO that Harper, Flaherty et al, notwithstanding the promised of no deficits had a $15M deficit last year. That as they were saying it, they already had one.

            Clear failure. And, it has been clearly reported. The masses do not appear to be up in arms.

            I would recognize that Libs will be more forceful than the media can be, but Harper also has outs (I put money on the table, the provinces and municipalities did not take us on it).

            Just not sure, given how little attention Canadians seem to be paying these days, that 4 special reports will make a lick of difference.

    • That said, I don’t understand how you can say this, Paul,

      Actually, most of this I heard from Layton himself last Sunday on the CBC with Michael Enright.

      I love how the media rushes in to establish the narrative we’re now supposed to live with for next news cycle: poor Layton, marginalised again.

      • It’s true. You’re all powerless to think for yourselves.

        • Finally Paul, we agree on something. Can I finally flood this blog with Marxist critiques of the media?

          • So you’re the one who’s been holding back.

        • Anyone tell you that you look like a Prussian army officer in that photo, Wells?

          • Australian, actually – “Kirk Lazarus is a successful Australian actor who signs on for the Tropic Thunder movie. He is a 5-time Academy Award-winning actor known for being a heavily method actor. He goes as far as to get a controversial skin procedure so that he can play an African American. He is known to not break character at all, being totally legit throughout production, absorbing his role. Allegedly, he doesn’t break character until after the DVD commentary.”

            He’s also the one who advises that you never, NEVER, play the full retard. Good advice, I say. Seldome heeded.

      • Oh , yes. This distrust ….. just came out of nowhere. No reason for it. Pathological , I’d say.

      • We know that.

    • “So how could he justify trusting Harper now . . .”

      That same question could be put to Conservatives, Liberals, every Canadian and you’d get your same answer:

      ” . . . without looking like a gullible fool?”

      There is a Thomas Paine quote regarding George Washington; “As to you, sir, treacherous in private friendship and a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an imposter, whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.”

      Plus ça change?

      • Good old Tom.

  9. C’mon, do you really think Layton would be trusty and good to work with in a coalition situation?

    NDP need a new leader, and fast.

    • Canada needs a full set of new leaders, but it’s already too late.

    • NDP need a new leader, and fast.

      Why? I see lots of conservatives and liberals out there who are upset with their party’s leader but I don’t see any NDP supporters who are upset with Jack. Maybe you do though. Can you point me to one of them.

      • You can take heart , Robert , in that so many caring people are concerned about the quality of NDP leadership. Heartwarming , ain’t it.

      • I could point you to plenty of former NDP supporters who dont like Layton. That’s actually quite easy.

      • but I don’t see any NDP supporters who are upset with Jack

        Which is very telling to me. And, as a Liberal, very comforting.

      • While I can’t point you to any NDP supporters upset with Jack, I can point you to quite a few former NDP supporters who are upset not only with Jack but the entire shift of the NDP from the party of the people to Jack’s Party.

        • … and the lack of current NDP supporters questioning Layton’s leadership of the party reinforces the fact that we made the right decision.

    • Ignatieff thought so. Probably still does.

      I know we all like think things can change radically from one minute to the next, but they really don’t. The NDP, the Liberals even the Bloc all behave like parliamentarians and that’s all I expect.

    • Canada needs a messiah. Anyone out there qualify?

      • I hear the Liberals are going to run attack ads saying “Jack Layton: he’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.”

      • Sorry, I look terrible in long hair and sandals….

  10. who’da thunk there was a door number 3?

  11. I guess I’m a little confused by the reaction to Layton on this (well, alright, I understand that there are people that hate him no matter what). The NDP has been going pretty hard for the environment for a long time, and this budget (from what I’ve heard in the papers) has pretty much nothing for the environment. In fact, aren’t they getting rid of some environmental regulations to speed the whole process along?

    “…he has marginalized his party well away from real decisions about power.”

    How would you have suggested he not do this Paul? It sounds to me like Harper has decided to court the Liberals for a while. Given that decision, Harper isn’t very likely to listen to what the NDP has to say on any subject. I could agree with the statement that the NDP is currently marginalized (compared to the theoretical role it would have had in a coalition government), but I fail to see how that is Layton’s fault. No matter what he does, the NDP won’t be in a position of power while the Cons and Libs are working together. Again, I’m not disagreeing with what I think is your main point, just where you’re placing the blame.

    • “The NDP has been going pretty hard for the environment for a long time”

      Is that a joke? Did you miss Layton’s attacks on carbon taxes? Did you miss Layton attacking Harper for not attacking the BC carbon tax sufficiently. Layton proved that he could not care less about the environment. He proposed a complex cap and trade with no details and openly attacked the simpler and cheaper way to achieve results.

  12. Paul is correct, Iggy has read the mood correctly….today….be responsible. Layton did marginalize himself, as did Duceppe. Duceppe may increasingly go back to looking like the Bloc is a dead end in terms of influence.

    I actually thought one scenario might have been that Duceppe then comes across as Mr. reeasonable, tempting Harper to cut a deal with him….wouldnt that have been ironic and been well within his job description of being a $**t disturber.

    Anyway, Jack is back to shouting at the wind. His perfomance in QP yesterday showed he hasnt read the polls saying Canadians want cooperation. The tone from the Libs and the PM’s tone in answering was markedly different than the tone of NDP and the PM’s answer to those questions.

  13. I understood and expected that the BQ and NDP have been polishing up clubs to beat up the Liberals if they didn’t topple the Conservatives; politics is politics. But by now we also know there was little chance to permanently remove Harper from 24 Sussex by the expedient of a coalition. The removal of the animating spirit of Canadian conservatism was the raison d’etre of the whole project, and the source for its fierce urgency. But with the prorogation it became less and less likely to succeed in that respect! If we took over now, Harper would have an excellent chance at a return in force in a few months.

    With that all said, the best chance of accomplishing the original end – getting Mr. Harper and his mephistophelean talents out of Canadian politics – lies in allowing him just enough rope over the next few months to finish himself off once and for all, but not enough to permanently beggar the country. Even if the other opposition parties are unhappy at the Liberals’ pragmatism, they could at least position themselves for such an eventuality rather than engage in the sort of histrionics I just saw from Layton. We’ll, hopefully, be in government together in a few months. Perhaps leave a few bridges unburnt?

    • Well said.

  14. This just in – Obama’s coming to visit on Feb. 19. Maybe some of Obama popularity will rub off on Harper – who could use a boost, now that half the Tory base is disgruntled by the budget.

    • That wont make a difference. The Tory Base wont blame Harper, they will blame a lack of majority.

      Harper suffers no internal fire, but it would be of Mulroneyesque proportions if a the Tory’s win a majority and this kind of budget were delivered.

    • Seems like a good day to start some home renovations.

  15. This deficit will come back to haunt us. Tax cuts won’t increase consumption in this climate. What’s anyone going to do with the few bucks they save in taxes? Hardly notice it. However in a little while the deficit will be the excuse for cutting social spending. We’ve already been through this one. Remember the era of recession and high interest rates in the 80s followed by drastic cuts in transfer payments for health care and education? Here we go…Ignatieff, make it stop! Layton sees it, but he can’t do it alone.

    • I think Liberals agree, assuming the Tories’ are as cynical as expected with the implementation of the infrastructure spending, small as it already is.

      But do you think Harper, removed from office this week by a coalition, would sigh and slink off to his think-tank ala 1997? Of course not. He’d have been handed a vacation from the fiscal nightmare his misgovernment helped create, along with a gigantic club with which to beat the Liberals with in the election which would follow 6 or 12 months later when the coalition foundered.

      We’re meant to believe that Mr. Layton’s hatred of the Liberals was a spontaneous development this afternoon? That was the unfortunate subtext to the entire coalition process: many within our parties do not have sincere cooperation in their hearts. Thanks to the vehemence he displayed today, it’ll be that much more difficult to collaborate when, hopefully sooner rather than later, a real opportunity comes to drive Mr. Harper out of Sussex drive permanently, and not just for a welcomed vacation.

      • You make a case for yet more Harper incompetence. He should have let the coalition take the reins. Jack’s sawn off that limb ok and Michael didn’t even have to hand him a saw. Ignatieff must be thanking the gods for dashing that poisioned coalition chalice from his sticky fingers.Yet even as we speak i think i spy Jack crawling out on yet another limb, hope he leaves the saw behind, this time.

        • If there was any ambiguity, I’m a Liberal. And I suppose I am making a case for a few months more of Harper’s incompetence, if only because it is now a more credible way to get rid of him than the coalition expedient, which would almost certainly founder to his benefit given the economy and the attitude of the public and media.

          Needless to say, a few more months of Harper, and a few billion dollars of this boondoggle are themselves a pretty bitter cup as it is. But the only other workable option was an election; the coalition would have seen Harper ensconced in power for years more and his whole catastrophic budget implemented.

          • It was i who was ambiguous. I see SH NOT letting the coalition unfold as further proof of his political incompetence.

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Ignatieff just forced the stupid, self-defeatingly secretive Harper office to advertise, regularly in Parliament, how billions of goodies are being spent across Canada?

    Yeah, that’ll teach ’em.

    • The budget is based on predictions. Updates will allow us to keep track of this. Just today IMF released new estimates for Canada which would increase Harper’s deficit substantially beyond his $60B or $80B (or whatever he said latest).

      There is also the concern that so much of the money has strings attached, that it may be difficult to access. A lot of things could go wrong in implementation.

      • Your exactly right. And had Ignatieff not made this demand, probably more things would go wrong in the implementation. I’d say Ignatieff just did something good for the country AND for the conservatives.

        • Oh c’mon! As if Harper will lose any sleep over having to provide an economic statement from time to time. He probably welcomes the opportunity to have a confidence motion (ordered by the LPC) that often in the upcoming year. All Harper needs is to show the GG that he was able to muster ONE confidence vote and he is home free to call for an election any time he feels like it.

          These updates may in fact come back to haunt the Libs. They better hope that they are ready and able to go to the polls every time those updates come to the House floor because Harper will not pass up an opportunity to include a poison pill if the tea leaves indicate a positive return for him at the polls.

          This amendment is most certainly not a “leash.” It is as passive as it gets. Had Dion been the one to pull this move, he would have been crucified in every paper from coast to coast.

          • How do you add a poison pill to a status report? Isn’t that what they are?

      • This can’t possibly be true.

        Gerry Ritz is quoted in the Leader-Post today as saying that the current numbers represent a “wost-case scenario.”

        There can, therefore, be no upward revision in the deficit.

        Gerry Ritz has spoken.

        • was there any jokes?

  17. EI eligibility and benefits was the issue that nearly cost Chretien his government in 1997, in case people have forgotten. The Liberals lost 20 of 32 seats in Atlantic Canada: 8 to the NDP (which had lost official party status in 1993) and 12 to the former PCs.

    Personally, I can’t imagine a realistic situation in which I would have urged Layton to support a Conservative budget, and I’m not particularly shocked that he would say it was unlikely he ever could. I’m trying to imagine how many NDP budgets the commentariat would expect Conservatives to read before they pronounced their opposition to them. So I could not really get caught up in all the phony outrage about that one.

    I don’t trust Stephen Harper either, and pretty much decided when he raised the separatist boogie-man and risk creating a national unity crisis that he had to go in the short- and long-term best interests of the country.

    Of course this is not the first time I’ve been offside with the collective wisdom of Macleans’ bloggers, but I’m looking around at the BloggingTories, Liblogs and NewDemocratsOnline. As Robert pointed out, there are two party blog aggregators engaged in furious second-guessing of their leadership, but the NDO was not one of them.

    Give ’em Hell, Jack!

    • When do the federal NDP faithful ever have to second guess its leadership? That presupposes consequential decision-making.

      Noone was surprised the Mr. Layton or anyone in his position would refuse to support the budget. Nor even participate in amending it. All that excited comment was the fact that he was intemperate in his remarks, in a way that would make any future cooperation with the Liberal look like ideological schizophrenia.

      • Jason, it’s easy to be snide, but the NDP’s decisions have actually been pretty consequential over the past few parliaments, and they take their role and their mandate as seriously, if not more so, than any other parliamentarians.

        I love many members of the media individually and dearly; but lovingly … they had that headline written before he ever gave this morning’s scrum.

        Layton will cooperate or not, as he always has, in the interests of advancing the interests of those of us whom he represents. And other parties and parliamentarians will accept his support as required to advance their own.

        For pete’s sake, the ones who are twisting into ideological pretzels today are the Liberals getting themselves all worked up over the terrible budget (Siobhan Coady, to name just one), but are prepared to let it pass nonetheless.

        • The politics of governing parties involves considering outcomes as well as the merits of the argument; the budget is crap; we’re allowing it to pass. You can only look so unpretzelly while doing that, but it’s better to look like a pretzel than to let Harper’s lot get power as the result of a coalition which was likely to see their triumphant return in less than a year.

          Regarding Mr. Layton’s position – not supporting the budget, not supporting the amendment process – I said above, I entirely understand. It’s honourable, expedient, and expected. What the issue was is that he dove into the Old Cause – vilifying the Liberals – with such obvious relish. Clearly he’s disappointed, clearly there are votes to be pared off, but we’re in a long term parliamentary configuration where we’re going to need to govern together, perhaps for years. That’s no time to poison the wells just because it isn’t a day for kumbaya.

          • OK, now I see the assumption behind the first of your points: that the Coalition would have dissolved earlier that its stated duration of 18 months, leading to a Conservative electoral victory. That’s a pretty big set of assumptions to make, and I don’t agree, but I can see why believing that would lead to your other conclusions.

            As to the other aspect of your criticism, Jason, you seem to be upset that Layton is not giving your guy a pass. You think Ignatieff should not be accountable for his decisions, but Harper should?

          • Reader: No, I expected Layton to criticize the Liberals for not going for a coalition; that’s certainly reasonable. I just thought he went rather drastically overboard and unnecessarily poisoned the atmosphere. There are a certain number of votes to be won by beating on the Liberals, but we may very well need to coordinate and cooperate in the near future.

          • In response to the ‘big set of assumptions?’ I was quite pro-coalition, and still have my signs just in case. But the support for the coalition, thought not as bad as it was, was soft enough to the right of the NDP that it would have run a terrible, terrible risk of inviting Harper back in; we’d only need to stumble once while trying to govern with both the recession, the stimulus negotiations, and the already existing 12+ billion dollar deficit the Tories would have laughingly handed us.

            Emotionally I might have been relieved to just boot Harper out the door this week. But intellectually I don’t think it would have lasted. I believe this was the best of several unappealing choices, the second-place one being an immediate election to sanction the coalition and reduce some of the CTV-style illegitimacy meme.

        • I take your point, but I take Jason’s as well.

          Would it not have been better for Layton to discover what Ignatieff was going to ask for as an amendment, and then Layton ask for amendments to the pay equity and EI eligibility?

          Separate as each party making their own amendments (don’t worry, no coalition here), united in their support for each other’s amendments (A united opposition will keep Harper from his evil ‘nice guy’ smile as he screws with the country).

          That would have been my perfect world, of course, but why can’t I ever have a perfect world?

          • Jenn, as the 4th party in Parliament (3rd in popular vote, but that’s FPTP for you), the NDP does not get to move any amendments to the Budget unless the Bloc Quebecois choose not to.

            You can be sure that EI and pay equity would have featured pretty prominently in any amendments they could have proposed, however.

    • The point is Layton is looking irrelevant. When he was saying Harper took some of his ideas, at least he sounded relevant. Now Layton has factored himself out of the equation and it all seems to be between the Conservatives and Liberals as far as exactly how many of those ideas (whether from Layton, Ignatieff or Harper) will actually get implemented.

    • I would expect the conservatives to read a service cutting budget from the NDP before the criticize it, since that is hardly a traditional NDP budget. I would have thought the NDP would read this one, but they made that clear awhile ago.

      Something like, we’ll just implement whatever we like in this budget, which is now a fair question to ask Jack, not that oit matters anymore, what of this budget would he have kept. If nohing then we knwo the NDP would have blown the bankroll.

      Actually it is an important question since the Liberals want to maintian the idea that they can re-coalition whenever they want. So just what is their common poicy ground that there would be agreement on?

      I suspect there is very little.

      The Layton resignation clock has now started, the betting window is open and down the corridor to the left.

  18. Michael Ignatieff: Pro-report card.

  19. The coalition kind of reminds me of that old footage of the first attempts at flight, maybe that craft built with 12 wings on top of each other that collapses as soon as it gets moving.

  20. So Jack’s gonna throw himself off of a cliff because he couldn’t get his way exactly. In the process he will be taking with him, besides himself that is, any chance of sensibly amending this budget. I know there was the coalition alternative. But why should we follow him over just because he thinks it’s the only choice left open to a man of principle?
    Mr Layton just confirmed for me why i can’t bring myself to vote for him or the NDP. It’s pretty much the same reason i can’t bring myself to throw myself off of the nearest cliff.

    • I’m unclear on why the budget would be unamended. The Liberals and Conservatives have the votes to pass an amended budget; the budget as it stands would fail.

      Or, did you mean substantively amended, as opposed to the report card mechanism?

      Given that the conservatives are implementing it, I doubt there’d be any appetite for moral ownership of the budget on the part of the NDP and Bloc. They write it, Steve implements it? Unappetizing, and not, after all, what we decided on either. Nor did we, so far as I know, invite the other parties to do a complete re-write, even assuming that’s possible without toppling the government.

      • I’m not entirely up to speed on the ammending process. But yes, basically i meant the lack of UI reform. On this pt i side with the NDP. Also i’m not sold on the tax cuts. Reducing revenue at a time like this wouldn’t be my first move. That said i’m fairly happy with Ignatieff’s strategy of giving Harper just enough rope to hang himself. I do understand NDP frustration – this guy’s gotta go!

  21. It looks to me like Iggy took the bait. Layton comes away clean.

    • How so? Layton is saying Canadians should not get this stimulus money because they should get more. But to get more they need to wait months and have another election or what? They need to have a coalition which, with the Libs and NDP combined, has fewer votes than the CPC, and which Layton says would have a leader that he doesn’t trust and is basically the same as Harper? What’s the point of a coalition like that?

      So just what does Layton think Canadians should do instead of benefitting from some stimulus money now? Oh, right, wait and elect him as PM. We’ve heard that one before. Didn’t work then. Won’t work now.

  22. The best part is how my boy Stevie was written off, dead, out of the pool soon to be replaced flat lined where are the toe tags bush clone etc etc … et al … just a couple of months ago : now what do we have a whole new ball game with Obama popping up in a month to witness Stevie and Iggy at the spring dance and a host of people walking around double checking their dance cards to re-evaluate who they invited. Only in Canada EH! – the event I am waiting for in about a few weeks maybe a few days is Mulcair dropping a few words in an interview along the line of = you know I had concerns about this coalition so soon after an election maybe it wasn’t the wisest of moves the timing and all not the principle you understand .. or something like that ….. Then the next sound you hear is the sharpening of those ginzo all purpose knives.

    • Your boy Stevie was trundling to the political mortuary when he got a 2 month prorogation with no state business done and no confidence in the house. One can scarcely blame the conventional wisdom for not predicting that particular constitutional abomination.

    • dont worry Wayne, Stevie isnt out of intensive care yet.

    • It’s ginsu knives…ginzo is a word that’ll get you a ginsu in the gut in certain parts of New Jersey.

  23. The Liberals had an opportunity to take power today. They have known it for the last two months, and they have been mulling it over.

    As this economic crisis unfolded, it became clear to anyone with an ounce of strategic thought that taking power at the head of a recession is not a smart course of action. The smart thing to do, which is what the Liberals are doing, is wait out the year, let Harper wear this recession, and his numbers will go down, down down.

    There is no scenario where Harper can regain the public trust. The economy is horrible, his leadership is being attacked from both outside and within his own party. The media –even the sycophants at CTV– have turned on him like an abused dog.

    This is the stuff majorities are made of.

    And you thought we were dead…

    • Good points Sandy but to my eyes he (Iggy) looked more like a gutless coward and I am sure I am not the only one. There is no way we can predict what will happen in a year from now, it can go either way, and who knows, Stephen Harper can gain momentum again.

      To the millions of Canadians who can’t stand the thought of Harper as PM anymore this move by Iggy will backfire on him and I won’t be too surprised if at the end of the day the real winner is the NDP. I for one will vote for them if the elections were held tomorrow after what I have seen this week. I won’t trust Iggy anymore.

      • So you trusted him before, Kendall? For some reason, I don’t trust you when you say that. Maybe it’s the whiff of NDP hyperpartisan pretzel-logic in your comment… I dunno… Anyway, I’ve met the Iggster a few times, and let me assure you, whatever the man is, he’s not a “gutless coward”. Just so ya know. But you probably don’t trust me, either, eh?

        Dang, that trust thing is hard.

  24. Left leaning Liberals should take Iggy’s advice and get ready to “swallow hard” during his tenure as leader. There is more daylight in Whitehorse in January then there is in policy differences between Ignatieff and Harper.

    • Yeah just as we just saw how the cons swallowed hard too with that liberal budget….. swallow hard, bend, just to stay in power. Cons= no principles.

      • Kendall,

        I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who only plays piano in the House of Commons.

  25. Gotta love the way Layton demonstrated the stability of the coalition by jumping down Iggy’s throat at the frist possibility. Now that’s teamwork.

    • They are all the same, Iggy jumped on Dion, Harper hates and despises everyone and will cut the political throat of anyone from his “team” that publicly and perhaps even privately disagrees with him.

      Gotta love how you can’t see that.

  26. Well, yes, of course the NDP is marginalized.

    It usually is during Liberal/Conservative coalitions.

  27. that whoosing sound is my vote leaving the NDP

  28. Last month Layton was saying Canadians wanted a different kind of politics, the kind where Parliament worked and parties co-operated. I wonder how Layton’s current strategy will go over, when people are still as worried as they were last month. I wouldn’t think just recycling the same-old-same-old political grandstanding is what Canadians want.

  29. Ideally, Ignatieff should have pressed for more amendments to the budget – like a shorter waiting period for EI and removing the elimination of pay equity, etc. But he likely would not have succeeded. The fact is, we need a budget to be put into place immediately and so we get this mish mash of stuff. Not great, not even good, in some respects; however, it has to pass. The country needs something in place now.

    The LIberals are regrouping and I’d never say – there will never be another coaltion.. No matter what bombast is uttered by JL, or anyone else. The coaltion could always be resurrected and justified, if extraordinary circumstances merit it.

  30. You know what Layton should do?
    instead of kicking a fit he should refuse to support the Liberals as they try to take down Parliament WHEN Stephen Harper refuses to be tugged by he leash and give economic updates.
    That’s the only way he will win

  31. Agreed. I’ve felt a huge amount of disappoint I’ve felt toward Jack Layton since November 2005.