Layton rules out an immediate coalition attempt
Even as the Liberal Party ramps up desperate efforts to make canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party have a hidden agenda, Canadians have kept in mind who has the real hidden agenda:
It's been Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton. That hidden agenda is a coalition.
Ignatieff has insisted that there is no coalition. Canadians have been having a hard time believing him.
But if Layton is being honest with Canadians following his most recent pronouncement -- that he will not attempt to form a coalition immediately after the election -- he may face the prospect of needing to find himself a new dance partner.
"There have been no discussions about that," Layton insisted. "[Harper] gets the first shot. The question will be: Is he willing to work with other parties?"
That's every bit as valid a question as the question whether or not the other parties are willing to work with Harper. But beyond that fundamental reality, it at least may seem that Layton is following the lead of Britain's Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.
When the 2010 British election ended in an effective stalemate between the David Cameron-led British Tories and the Gordon Brown-led Labour Party, Clegg was effectively put into the position to decide the next government. There was a very strong caveat: British political culture favours governments that control a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, and so that party would have to partner with his Lib Dems in a coalition.
Clegg determined that the Conservatives, having won the largest portion of seats, would get the first opportunity to make a deal. They were successful.
Canada's political culture does not make the same demand. In a "hung Parliament" situation, it's typically been accepted that whichever party holds a plurality would have the opportunity to govern. Only once in Canadian history has the pluarlity-winning party been rebuked by a larger coalition.
Then again, Layton may not be on the level. In 2008, he was in touch with the Bloc Quebecois very quickly laying the groundwork for the spectacular failure of the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition.
If Stephen Harper and the Conservatives fall short of a majority on May 2, it will be up to Canadians to hold Layton to his word, and at least give the Tories an opportunity to govern before trying to hatch a coalition.