No surprise that the NDP would breeze into Jack Layton’s old seat, but the Conservative result barely cracking 5 percent was a bit… well, hilarious. So much for two-time loser Andrew Keyes – “a recognized leader in the communications industry.” Who knows, maybe there will be a Senate seat or plum appointment in his future as reward for all his sacrificial efforts to the cause…

“The True Alternative”?

As reported in the Globe & Mail the other day, “Jack Layton says he’s not interested in discussing the prospect of a merger between the NDP and the Liberals, contending the election result shows his party is now the ‘true alternative’ to the Conservatives.”

Well, isn’t that special?

Jack’s hubris must certainly come as welcome news for all Liberals concerned about premature talk of a possible merger between the two parties in the wake of their catastrophic defeat at the polls. And maybe now that the Liberals are free to vote their conscience rather than being forced to effectively help prop up a minority Harper regime, we’ll get to see more clearly what sort of role they can play in this new parliament.

The NDP on the other hand must not only presume to be the “true alternative” to the Conservatives, but more importantly, a credible one. With nonsensical economic policies and half its caucus rife with separatists, it should be interesting to see how that works out for them in the months and years to come.

Jacking Off Layton

The timing of this foolish distraction is fairly suspect, to say the least. Does anyone think for a moment that the Sun didn’t have this story in their back pocket all along? That they chose to drop it two days before the election indicates the frantic last-minute desperation of the Conservative Party media to derail the NDP and their dreaded “socialist hordes” as much as anything else.

By the way, doesn’t getting a “rub and tug” in a cathouse pretty much describe the daily activities of the Sun’s pundits (sometimes laughingly referred to with great irony as “journalists”)?

p.s. Does anyone else think that it’s totally weird that Sun TV thought it necessary to dramatically interrupt their regular programming with this “breaking news” about an “exclusive” non-story from 16 years ago?


If the latest EKOS poll is to be believed, it seems that Jack Layton will be the next leader of the Opposition with a 100 seats to his credit. Heck, if he teams up with the Liberals to form a “reckless coalition” that Harper has relentlessly warned about through the campaign, he could even be the next Prime Minister!

As humiliating as such a projected outcome may be to diehard Liberals, I wouldn’t actually consider it to be such a bad thing. At last, the federal NDP would be held accountable for their votes in parliament.

Being elevated to the role of Official Opposition in a minority government scenario would likely impose some very awkward and compromising decisions on Mr. Layton and his party, especially should the Liberals decide to enjoy the newfound liberty that would be afforded them in such a situation by adamantly rejecting the Con’s proposed budget and any other confidence motions that happen to come down the pike, thereby firmly placing the onus on the NDP to prop up the Harper regime lest they precipitate an unwanted election.

And who knows… Such an outcome may even lead to more serious discussions about forming a Liberal Democratic Party at some point in the future.

Attacking from the Middle

It’s a tough position the Liberals find themselves in these days, defending the middle ground against aggressive encroachments from both the left and the right. It used to be a position of strength in Canadian politics and arguably one that led to them being what some dubbed the “natural governing party” for the vast majority of the last century, but times have changed. Being caught in the middle of a two-front war is a hazardous predicament – one that a columnist metaphorically likened to that of Germany in WWI.

Aside from the fact that they’ve been running an excellent campaign (as they did in the last election too), I think the NDP is reaping popular dividends at the moment from having been the party most clearly and consistently opposed to the Harper regime over the past several years. As for the Liberals, despite all their rhetorical bluster, for various internecine political reasons we’re all familiar with, they’ve been forced to effectively prop up the Harper Conservatives and vote with them more often than not on innumerable bills, thereby undermining the party’s credibility as the opposition of choice.

But the Libs aren’t going down without a fight, which is good to see for a change. Their latest advert attacks both Jack Layton and Stephen Harper for their unprincipled past deeds, corporate giveaways and budget-busting proposals… All in a matter of seconds.

Even if one disagrees with the assertions made in this advertisement, you have to admit that its execution is quite brilliant. Too bad they didn’t think of it sooner. Maybe even going so far as to have some souvenir Harper-Layton coins minted to drop off when doorstepping…

Post-Election Speculation

Peter Mansbridge talking to Jack Layton and Michael Ignatieff about past and future attempts to form a “coalition” or some other working arrangement between the parties in a minority parliament scenario:

From the outset of this election, it’s been a hazardous issue for Ignatieff. Even though he flatly ruled out any talk of forming a “coalition” with the NDP and the Bloc – a decision not arrived at quickly enough for some like me – he’s obviously still got to leave the door open to such a possibility in the event that the Conservatives don’t succeed in getting their coveted majority and should Harper then fail at his “first try” to gain the confidence of the House.

The Harper spin is that unless he gets an absolute majority then the deck will be stacked against him… The opposition parties will band together, vote down his budget and then attempt to form what you can be sure the Conservatives will describe as an “illegitimate” government instead.

Of course, that imaginary scenario conveniently overlooks one significant part of the equation: what Harper may do should the Canadian people once again deny him a majority. If he’s willing to compromise with other parties in the House and incorporate some of their policies into his Budget, then he can easily diffuse the situation and remain in power.

It actually wouldn’t be a tremendous stretch to accommodate some of the proposals from the Liberals and NDP on say, pension reform, student loans, public financing of elections, etc., along with promises for more transparency on tendering of certain military contracts, or whatever… There is lots of room to manouever and a lot of different cards on the table he could play. Question is whether could bring himself to seriously engage with his political opponents in that way.

Leadership Debate

I only got around to watching the debate this morning, hence the late posting about it here. Sorry about that.

As usual, it was a worthless exercise that produced nothing in the least bit memorable or illuminating. Aside from occasional moments of amusement provided by Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe gleefully needling both the Liberals and Conservative leaders, the performances were dreadfully lacklustre, vacuous, and painfully stilted. Really, it was just an awful waste of everybody’s time.

According to some Liberal strategists, the “turning point” of the sorry affair can be seen at the beginning of this clip where Ignatieff scoffed at Harper’s plea for an outcome that would deliver a Conservative majority government. “A majority? … Majorities are things you earn when you earn the trust of Canadian people and you haven’t earned the trust of the Canadian people because you don’t trust the Canadian people,” Iggy righteously fumed.

Personally, I thought the most damning moment came shortly afterward where Jack Layton skewered Ignatieff for having “the worst attendance record in the House of Commons of any member of parliament.”

As is typical with these contrived “debates” there didn’t seem to be any clear winner or loser, although Jack Layton certainly came across as the most engaging of the bunch, so I guess in that sense he may perhaps benefited from it more than the others.

While Ignatieff didn’t embarrass himself, he also failed to impress. The relentless personal attacks on Harper that he kept hammering away at all night will do little to attract new support and may even turn some people off. As for Harper, his “preternaturally calm” delivery (to quote Ibbitson) may well have creeped out a lot of folks, but the “stay the course” message of solid growth and economic recovery is one that many will likely find, if not compelling, at least reassuring.

Update: The NDP has released a highlight reel from the debate featuring Jack’s best moments.


To be “fair and balanced” I checked the Liberal and Conservative YouTube sites, but they haven’t released anything to do with the debate.

Update2: Here’s the entire debate via CanuckPolitics. Cheaper than Sominex!