Monday, April 25, 2005

Let's Make a Deal

The current election story is Jack Layton's proposed deal to Paul Martin that would cancel the budget's tax cuts for business in favour of more social spending. Many bloggers have considered the strategic implications of this deal for the three federalist parties.

The angle that I think may have been missed is the possibility that Layton is being very cunning with this proposal (not jus his usual used-car-salesman-vanilla cunning). Layton has made it clear that this deal only affects his party's support of the budget bill. What if Martin accepts the deal, the NDP votes for the budget but then against the government in a subsequent vote of non-confidence?

Seems that Martin would get a very little (his budget passed) and Layton would get a lot (proof that the NDP can be a policy force plus an election to reap the rewards). This scenario would totally negate the negative perception that Layton is making a deal with the devil to prop up a corrupt government but would augment his slime factor. I don't know that Jack would really be bothered by that possibility, not because he's genuinely slimy but because I think he would realise that it just wouldn't cost him many votes in the long run.

Now obviously this sort of situation would be totally unacceptable to Martin. He would lose votes to Harper for getting in bed with the Dippers, and to Layton because now the Dippers seem like more feasible bedmates and would be stuck with his dreaded spring election. This is why I think Martin will make one of two counter-proposals, either: too low for Layton to accept; or a more comprehensive deal which guarantees NDP support on NCVs as well as the budget. Media reports seem to indicate that the former is more likely.

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