NDP Leader Jack Layton said Tuesday he wants to see the incoming Conservatives' full budget plan before deciding whether to back a Tory plan to cut the GST.
“We'll see what the proposal is with the budget,” he told reporters before heading into his party's caucus meeting in Ottawa.
“There will be all sorts of measures in the budget. We have not had the opportunity to study a budget up to now.”
Is it possible that Layton would draw a line in the sand over the massively popular GST cut? Hardly, but it looks like Layton is hedging to see if he can secure some compromises on other issues. Why give away the GST cut for nothing, if you can gain some leverage elsewhere?
The problem with this tactic, is the NDP has no real clout within this parliament. Any NDP decision to support or oppose legislation is relatively meaningless, which presents a serious challenge for Layton. Harper doesn't need NDP support to get a majority, so where is the impetus for him to compromise with Layton? The Liberals and Bloc will share the balance of power, leaving the NDP as government critic, without any real influence.
Layton must look relevant publicly, even though practically the NDP is an afterthought. With the makeup of this parliament, I would argue that the NDP has the most to lose and could get lost in the shuffle. This is a discouraging scenario for progressives because, coupled with a near term Liberal Party that is sure to be unfocused, a toothless NDP doesn't allow the necessary check on some of the more disturbing Conservative policies(i.e global climate change, health care). We may look to Duceppe to blunt the Conservatives, while the Liberals retool. Layton can only offer soundbites and hope the media doesn't mute his message because of perceived weakness.