Hmmm. Just when it seemed that another supremely pointless fall election might be inevitable if the Liberals actually carried through on Michael Ignatieff’s solemn vow to withdraw his party’s support from the Harper minority government, along comes Jack Layton and the NDP to prop them up instead.
The NDP could save the Conservative government from a fall defeat if the Tories make strides to boost pensions, slay bank and credit card fees and help the unemployed.
Senior New Democrats suggested the 36-member caucus could save the country from an unwanted fall vote if Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to support key NDP priorities.
Well, who could blame him, really? It’s certainly not as if there’s any love lost between Layton and Ignatieff after the Liberal leader rejected the idea of a coalition government once he had unseated Stéphane Dion and seized control of the party in December.
I suppose if such a scenario comes to pass, everyone wins — or at least the politicians. For the NDP, if they manage to wring some concessions out of Harper in exchange for their support it’s certainly more than they would have likely accomplished otherwise and it provides them with some much needed legitimacy; a quality that’s been somewhat lacking of late, as the party demonstrated at its lacklustre convention recently.
In addition to the obvious plus of carrying on governing, Harper likewise benefits bolstering the NDP’s legitimacy, thereby constraining the Liberals by keeping the left split. Besides, the NDP “issues” in question wouldn’t exactly be difficult concessions for Harper to make (who would object to slaying bank and credit card fees or boosting pensions?) and may in fact be quite popular.
As for the Liberals, the move would relieve them from hastily launching into a disastrous fall election unwanted by most voters, while at the same time liberating them over the course of the fall and winter to demonstrate some integrity and act like a proper opposition party for a change.
The change of Harper’s dance partners is almost a little too neat perhaps, but maybe that’s being overly conspiratorial…
Update: Scott Tribe provides a video clip in the comments from Dave Rutherford’s CHQR radio program this morning of Jason Kenney quite predictably disavowing that the Conservatives would enter into any kind of arrangement with the NDP. (Did you seriously expect him to admit the Cons would be happily consorting with the dreaded socialist horde?) It’s titled “Kenney smashes any dreams of NDP avoiding an election.” Well, I’m unconvinced about that as his remarks left plenty of wiggle room to suggest otherwise. He certainly didn’t conclusively rule out the possibility of some horse-trading or tacit deal-making in the future (presuming it hasn’t already occurred… didn’t Layton meet with Harper quite recently for private discussions of some kind — what was that all about?)
Meanwhile, Ignatieff issued a statement today about his “clear decision” to withdraw support from the Harper government and possibly force an election, remarking that “It’s up to the NDP to decide, I can’t decide for the other parties.” And, via Warren Kinsella comes this remarkably mature, thoughtful take on the situation: