Jack Layton wants to shit in Michael Ignatieff's shoes
According to NDP leader Jack Layton, there's a new coalition on Parliament Hill, and he doesn't like it.
"We have a new coalition now on Parliament Hill -- it's a coalition between Mr Harper and Mr Ignatieff," Layton complained.
"Mr Ignatieff has made his choice, he has decided not to support the coalition and the positive change that it would have brought," Layton complained. "He has formed a relationship with Mr. Harper and this could last for a very long time."
Layton's comments came shortly after Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledged "conditional" support for the budget.
However, Ignatieff is calling for the government to issue periodical reports on the progress of the budget's implementation.
"Each of these reports will be an opportunity to withdraw our confidence should the government fail Canadians," Ignatieff announced.
Which is actually an extremely novel idea for reform. If one treats any confidence vote as essentially a contract between the government and Parliament in which Parliament gives its approval for the government's fiscal agenda under the expectation that it be implimented, then such periodic reports give Parliament a valuable tool for actually enforcing that agreement.
This isn't merely something that should be applied to the current budget -- it should be applied to all future budgets in this country.
But Michael Ignatieff may want to be a good deal more careful about some other things. With Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe formally declaring the coalition to be dead today, Ignatieff won't have that stick to threaten Stephen Harper with any longer.
"We are putting this government on probation," Ignatieff said. "Should Mr. Harper fail to satisfy the expectations of Canadians, we will be ready to defeat him and lead in his place."
But having already disappointed his coalition partners, Ignatieff may not find them quite so obliging should he turn around and decide to defeat the government.
"This is the first really important decision in public life that Mr Ignatieff has had to make... and what he decided to do was to stick with [Stephane] Dion's unfortunate voting policy of propping up Mr Harper," Layton complained. "When the Liberals vote for Mr Harper, with or without a fig leaf of an amendment, they will be casting their 45th straight vote to keep Stephen Harper in office. You can't do that and pretend to be the alternative to Mr Harper."
But consisdering the attitude of most Canadians to the proposed coalition, Layton can't deny that Ignatieff has merely woken up to reality and decided to not hand the Conservative party a majority in the next election.
Other bloggers writing on this topic:
James Laxer - "Jack Layton is Now the Real Leader of the Opposition"
Pearce Richards - "Jack Layton: Do As I Say, Not As I Do"
Jason Clements - "What Happened to Democracy?"