Sunday, December 14, 2008

Layton Begins The Dance

A very sedate Jack Layton today on Question Period, and while he stuck to the coalition argument for the most part, for the first time I saw a slight retreat from the absolute. Here are a few quotes from Layton, which look strangely similar to some of the lines I've heard from certain Liberals:
"Look, I think the coalition has already shaken things up. Mr. Harper has been forced to go back to the drawing board, and say as a government I've got to change. So, the coalition has already had a positive impact"

"It's the season of miracles. Are we going to get a miracle in the budget, maybe we have to be open to that possibility"

"Canadians want action on the economy, and I think the coalition has already begun to change the government's approach to the economy. And, we're going to keep the pressure on"

Very telling, to hear Layton argue that the coalition has already been successful, to some degree, in changing the government's approach. I'm sure some will argue "no such thing", but my read of the above, not to mention the body language, suggests the first sign that the NDP may be considering how to frame the debate, should the coalition cease to be. Whatever, I thought those quotes were noteworthy to say the least.


Anonymous said...

I saw the same interview. My read was a little different. Layton seemed to be taking a page from Ignatieff's book about presenting himself as more reasonable, open to seeing the budget before dismissing it. But he was adamant about his belief that the GG would not dissolve Parliament after a no confidence vote. Meaning he still thinks a coalition government is a likely scenario. I just think he wanted to come across a little less strident.

Paladiea said...

What did I tell you?

Steve V said...

Not sure, care to remind me?


Yes, he was quite adamant on that score, but it's an after the fact contention.

janfromthebruce said...

Well we did see some positive results - like Harper took off the 1.95 per vote cutback, and removed the clause that public sector unions couldn't do collective bargaining - so yes Harper did some retreat and that was positive.
But will it come back - yes - when???
Anyway, what did you except Layton to say - considering Iggies' stance of coalition if necessary but not necessarily.

Paladiea said...

Exactly Jan, and I already mentioned that it was folly to expect the NDP to just sit there on their hands while the Libs talk up all the angles.

Steve V said...


You will recall, my argument was simply this- other parties will react to the Liberals, they have positioned themselves at the center of the debate. If Layton is moving off the absolute, it's in reaction to the Liberals, not some epiphany. If the NDP want to back away and declare victory, from the Liberal perspective, that's wonderful.

What I think is happening here, and I don't want to overstate it, because it's a SMALL opening, Layton is reacting to the Libs and the NDP's own internal polling/feedback.

Anonymous said...

Dion's ambition to be PM and Liberals' thirst for power caused them to go overboard; too bad there weren't enough adults in the room to talk some sense into them. As was mentioned in the comments, the coalition did get Harper to back down on some issues; if cooler heads had prevailed, the coaliton would have claimed victory and went back to their corners. Instead they went ballistic - launching every weapon they had in an effort to grab power without the electorate's permission. They failed, now they have no amunition left. Check the polls - there is no way an election forced by the coaliton would result in good news for them. In fact, the opposition is probably weaker today than ever because all Harper has to do is present a budget that most Canadians think is reasonable and the coalition can do nothing but support it; are the Liberals, NDP and Bloc willing to go to the electorate as one entity, with one set of policies and one campaign platform? Of course not, but since they dropped the government as a coaliton and were wanting to govern as a coalition there will be (in the public's mind) two choices - Coalition or Conservatives - polls show the coaliton won't win that battle. If the Liberals hadn't been so greedy they wouldn't have launched this all or nothing attack - they lost and now they have nothing to hold over Harper's head - instead the coaliton is dead in all by name and Harper has only to do what most people would deem reasonable to survive.

Anonymous said...

"In fact, the opposition is probably weaker today than ever because all Harper has to do is present a budget that most Canadians think is reasonable and the coalition can do nothing but support it;"

That's not true. If the Liberals decide the budget is unacceptable (which it will likely be) then all they have to do is vote down the budget and then form a coalition government. There is no need for an election. Then Ignatieff will be PM whether at that moment in time Canadians like it or not. We form governments based on what is constitutional - not based on what an opinion poll says. If Ignatieff wants to be PM - all he has to do is say YES.

Steve V said...


Anyone who actually thinks the Conservatives are stronger, as a result of this self-inflicted crisis is completely delusional. Yes, check the polls, Harper at his lowest level in over 2 years, Ignatieff actually bests him as best PM(a rarity to see a sitting PM trail), his negatives through the roof.

Anonymous said...

Good posting.

I believe Iggy will ditch the coalition. It was a good move for Dion because he had nothing to lose, but not so good for the Liberals.

If the opposition parties bring down the govt in January, then the odds are at least 50 - 50 that the Governor General will grant the Prime Minister’s request to dissolve parliament and allow a new election. If she does, then the Liberals will be well and truly screwed.

The collation has propelled the Conservatives to the top of the polls and shown up the Liberals as power mad. Plus, the Liberals are bankrupt, in no shape to fight an election.

If Iggy forces an election, the Liberals may end up with as few votes as the NDP. Quite an accomplishment for such a recent immigrant to Canada!

(Yes, of course I know “recent immigrant” isn’t an accurate description of Iggy, but he has spent most of his life outside Canada and until 5 years ago comfortably spoke about “we Americans.’)

Steve V said...


Bad commenting.

Anonymous said...

I say Anonymous is wrong. I say it's 90% chance that the GG gives the Coalition a chance to govern, if the budget is rejected. I don't think Ignatieff will reject it. He doesn't want to. But IF he does, there is little question in my mind that the GG will refuse the request to dissolve parliament.

Why? She CLEARLY made Harper work for that prorogation. I don't think she's happy with him. I don't think she'll be much happier with him stacking the Senate. And she DEFINITELY won't be happy if he presents another poisonous budget that the Liberals can't support.

She'll let them govern. She'll give them that chance.

Anonymous said...


I can't see that. If the budget is rejected, then why wouldn't she allow an election? With all of the shifts since October, consulting the electorate seems the most obvious way to go.

However, if a 2009 election produced another Conservative minority, then given the inability of that arrangement to work, she may ask a coalition to govern. But ONLY after another election failed to resolve the situation.

Anonymous said...

I think that our friendly neighbourhood Tory trolls here are trying to spread lies about an election being sparked if the budget is voted down because they are so freaked out at the possibility that the coalition could take power in late January and toss Harper into the garbage can of history!

Karen said...

Jack and Jeff, from what I've read and while it's far from clear cut, the conventional wisdom is that the GG would grant an alternate to govern if they could make their case. This has more to do with how long the current government has been in power since the last election than anything else.

Karen said...

Steve, I would agree that Jack seemed to back away ever so slightly today. In fact, I've seen his surrogates doing that through the week.

It seemed to happen after Layton was on with Mansbridge, following Ignatieff's interview.

In the main, Layton would have to take his cues from Ignatieff at this point, but if I recall, Mansbridge seemed to push Jack by pointing out that you can't just say you'll vote down a budget without seeing it, etc.

It will be interesting to watch as time goes on. Layton has a lot to lose.

Anonymous said...

Even if Layton were 1000% committed to voting down the Harper gov't regardless of what's in the budget - now that we have six weeks ahead of us - it makes sense to go through the motion of leaving the door open the teeniest crack just in case if Harper brings in an NDP-style budget. It just doesn't look good to come out and say you will vote it down no matter what before you've seen it - even if that is exactly what you plan to do.

What's Layton got to lose. He can easily feign total disappointment when the Harper budget is unveiled and then denounce the Liberals for backing it - if that is what they do. On the other hand if the Liberals vote the budget down - then Layton gets a seat in cabinet - either way he comes out ahead.

janfromthebruce said...

And considering that the House hasn't sat since May 2008 and it will be the end of January 2009 before the House opens again, GG would be more inclined to go the opposition to run a "stable govt."
Essentially Harper shutdown govt for over 8 months.
P.S. I see the conservative trolls hate the coalition govt idea, whether here or on media boards, or whereever, SO IT MUST BE A GOOD IDEA (and doable).

RuralSandi said...

Truth - no ones knows what GG will do.

I find it interesting when celebrities who have lived in the US for decades - like Peter Jennings, actors, etc. win acclaim, awards, etc., Canadians proudly claim them.

Ignatieff, who was only in the US 4to 5 years is now considered American and spent time in Britain, our mother country is suddenly unCanadian. Now, for the CPC - Conrad Black, in jail, lived in Britain and in the House of Lords, dropped his Canadian citizenship - is their hero.