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Well done Jack — bring on the blame

This Magazine Staff

Jack Layton may very well have dimmed his own spotlight. I’m sure there will be plenty of analysis blaming Layton for whatever happens in the coming election (if indeed there is one). If the very latest trend is true, and if Canadian voting tendencies continue as they have the last decade or so, a slim majority for the Liberals seems increasingly possible, and that would put an end to Layton’s time spent on the front pages, which has been considerable during the run of this minority government. Layton may not have known about the results of the Globe/CTV poll released this morning, when he made his bold statement yesterday:

“If these Liberals want to get to work on issues like those I’ve mentioned, we’ll be there to get things done. If not — Mr. Martin should understand he better not count on the NDP’s support in the weeks to come.”

Had he known, I doubt it would have made a difference. The poll puts the Liberals out in front with 35%, to the Tories’ 28%, and has the NDP dropping from 20 to 16%. That’s enough to get the ball rolling for the Liberals during a campaign that will undoubtedly once again attempt to steal votes from the NDP with the prospect of an unfocused and internally pugnacious Tory government. The Conservatives are certainly doing their part by remaining unfocused and internally pugnacious.

So bring on the blame—but just try finding fault with Layton’s guts and principles. The politically “smart” thing for Layton to do would be to keep his cards very close to his chest and to reserve judgement on everything. Instead, as he has done since taking over the NDP, Layton has taken a principled stand at an inconvenient time for principled stands.

So I guess the next question is for Mr. Harper. At 28%, and almost guaranteed not to form the next government—after all, what kind of feckless second party could NOT sell themselves as an alternative to this particular Liberal government?—do you stick to your own principles and force a confidence vote?

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