NDP Leader Jack Layton: "We have a new coalition now on Parliament Hill: It's a coalition between Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff ... Today we have learned that you can't trust Mr. Ignatieff to oppose Mr. Harper. If you oppose Mr. Harper and you want a new government, I urge you to support the NDP."
LONG LIVE THE COALITION! Poor sad Jack Layton. We don't want a new government. NOBODY DID. What we wanted was a FUNCTIONING government, which is what we now appear to have.
He never understood, never had the foresight to see just a little into the future. He must suck at chess. The coalition was a threat, a fantasy from inception. There is no way a coalition government with Stephane Dion at the helm would have ever taken power in this country. Just wasn't going to happen. Given the outcome of most polls (the AG would have to take popular opinion into account when deciding on a coalition vs. election) the result would've been an election. With Dion at the helm, the Liberals would've been decimated and there wouldn't be enough of anyone left for a coalition government.
Enter Michael Ignatieff, who for the sake of the Liberal party is much smarter than his predecessor. Knowing that popular opinion was against the coalition he made the right decision -- to wait and see what the budget held before arbitrarily torpedoing it. Layton didn't care what was in it -- it wasn't a matter of confidence, it was an old man grasping at his last chance to see any power in his lifetime. Don't get me wrong, before this whole debacle, I rather liked Jack. He seemed like a nice guy, a bit too far too the crazy-hippie side for me politically, but it seemed like his heart was in the right place.
The other important factor that Ignatieff included in his calculations was public opinion over torpedoing the budget itself. Things to consider;
- The budget accomplished much of what the Liberals wanted to see.
- The economy is swirling down the toilet much faster than many expected.
- The general opinion is that significant stimulus is needed as soon as possible, eg. now.
All of these factors combined would've provided significant ammo to the Conservatives in an election scenario. "Hard working Canadians need help now. Our proud Canadian cities need help now. What have the Liberals done to help? They voted against a budget that achieved what they wanted, triggered an election, and made all Canadians wait months before any sort of help could be expected."
The optics are incredibly bad in that scenario. It would have looked like they sunk it just to grab power. With a wild-eyed Jack Layton riding their backs all the way to Ottawa screaming "yahoo!" there would be little to dissuade people from coming to the obvious conclusion.
Ignatieff is a very smart guy. He may not have risen to power in the traditional way, but the Liberals got who they needed this time, rather than the choice least objectionable to everyone.