...lined up against a Harper majority
Ever since Prime Minister Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to power in 2006, one word has been considered scandalous if so much as uttered by a Conservative:
This has, of course, been driven as much by Liberal panic-mongering as anything else. But now, with the 2011 federal election steadily slipping away from the Liberals, they're working as hard as they can to make a certain word scandalous if so much as uttered by the NDP:
Leader. As in, "of the Opposition".
Following what appeared to be stagnating numbers early in the campaign, the NDP surge -- particularly in Quebec -- has had tongues wagging across Canada.
Michael Ignatieff, for one, is not happy about it.
"Come on, folks, let's be serious," Ignatieff implored. "We've got to choose a government on the 2nd of May; we can't choose a bunch of Boy Scouts on this issue."
Which is actually rather ironic when you think about it: Ignatieff and his fellow opposition leaders essentially told the Canadian public that they toppled the Harper government because they weren't Boy Scouts.
According to Ignatieff, what matters is that Canadians vote for the Liberals in order to avoid returning Stephen Harper to power.
"If you vote for Mr Layton, you're going to get a Harper minority government." Ignatieff forecasted. "If you vote for Mr Duceppe, you're going to get a Harper minority government."
Which, again, is funny when you think about it. To most people, Quebeckers shouldn't vote for the Bloc Quebecois because they're separatists. To Ignatieff, it's because not Quebeckers voting for the Bloc is good for him.
It's the kind of sentiment that gives ample cause for doubt about whether or not Ignatieff is fit to continue as Leader of the Opposition.
But while Ignatieff's stock is fading, another opposition leader continues to gather momentum in the leadership department. And, no, it isn't Gilles Duceppe.
That leader is Jack Layton. Speaking recently on the campaign trail, Layton indicated sound juggment on a matter of intense importance to Canadians: the Constitution.
Layton indicated that he would be open to re-opening the Constitution in order to secure Quebec's assent to that document. And as opposed to Pierre Trudeau, who rammed the Constitution through while a separatist government was in power in Quebec, Layton wants to wait until "the winning conditions for Canada in Quebec" exist.
Needless to say, Layton is gambling. Canadians don't exactly look back on the last rounds of Constitutional wranglings -- the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords -- with fond memories.
Yet Layton is clearly well-attuned to the problems the state of Canada's Constitution -- with Quebec not a signatory to that document -- pose to the country.
"What we're saying is that at some point in the future the whole issue of the fact that Quebec hasn't signed on to our Constitution has got to be dealt with," Layton remarked. "But the first step is getting rid of the Stephen Harper government and putting in place a government that can actually work with not only the people of Quebec, but right across the country, and stop this division that we've been getting for far too long."
Quebec isn't the only waning hole in the country's Constitutional unity. Canada's First Nations have yet to achieve a satisfactory position within the British North America Act.
But if Layton is going to be involved in Constitutional negotiations, it's imperative that those negotiations take place under a Conservative government. If Layton is able to direct such constitutional discussions from the driver's seat, God only knows what kind of disaster will ensue.
One could rest assured that Layton would do everything he can to institutionalize some rather extreme leftist principles in the Constitution. The idea of Libby Davies with a pen at the Constitutional table should send a chill down the spines of any thinking Canadian. (Read: not the kind who vote for Davies.)
All this being said, the Constitution is a key issue for Canada, whether Canadians welcome it or not. Jack Layton's understanding of this is another key marker demonstrating that he's ready to sit in the Opposition's big chair.
Jack Layton would make an excellent Leader of the Opposition... opposing a Stephen Harper majority government.