I said yesterday that I thought the budget should be defeated in total, and I still don't like it, it's a bad budget. I also know though that I am in the minority in this. Most of Canada does not want an election and does not like the coalition idea. Ignatieff was right in that what people really want is for Ottawa to do something - for the money to flow out of Ottawa, even if it is not the budget they wanted to see.
I thought that Ignatieff's approach was shrewd: Force the government to report back and face a confidence vote every three months. So the money starts to flow but the government can still be brought down as early as March. It allows the opposition parties time to exploit the weakness' in the budget and get the public ready for a new government. I hope that he gets his amendment.
Mr. Layton's reaction was predictable and sad. It did not acknowledge political realities. By political realities I mean that had the government been defeated and a budget (any budget) been delayed for another few months the Liberals and the NDP would have been punished for it at the polls. The likely outcome would have been a Harper majority (especially now that Harper isn't really a conservative anymore).
Layton's bitterness is understandable, the coalition is likely as close as he'll ever get to governing. His rhetoric though is tired. His new buzzwords are "virtual coalition" and "get out of jail free card" - they have apparently replaced "kitchen table". Staying on message is one thing but using the same buzz words to answer just about every single question asked makes him sound like a robot.
There is much that I agree with the NDP on, but I fear that they will go no further until they find someone to replace Jack Layton. Jack has brought the NDP back from the brink of extinction, but I think he's done all he can. He has become too predictable, everyone knows what he's going to say before he says anything and fewer and fewer people are impressed. The NDP has had their bulldog, he got them back in the headlines and gained them seats - now the party needs a strategist who can figure out how to increase their power and leverage what power they do have to greater effect. The my way or the highway approach only works if you have a majority government, it's not as effective when you have 37 seats.