Friday, November 04, 2005

Memo to Layton: Drop the Writ or Get Off the Pot

Hey Jack. How's it going? I hear you've got a head cold. So do I! It's made thinking and writing more laborious than usual. I've spent a lot of time at home this week hugging my pillow and cursing various inanimate objects around the room.

Anyway, I wonder if being stuffed up has affected your brain as it has mine. Usually you're quite politically astute -- you've been making a lot of right moves, getting good press, and I've been rather surprised to the NDP stuck below 20%. I think the notion that the Conservatives are "scary" has hurt you guys perhaps more than the Conservatives. But that's a topic for another time...

What doesn't make sense is your current position. Either the revelations of the first Gomery report are so grievous that an election should be called immediately, or they're not. Whether or not the Liberals agree to your health care demands, that will not change. Your if-then proposition makes it look like you are saying, "The Liberals do deserve to be brought down, but for a little policy we’ll prop them up until they can reframe the election in their own terms."

Back in the Spring, you made more sense. It was prudent to wait for Gomery's report, rather than call an election based on testimony. Canadians appreciated not wasting time on an election that would have probably returned about the same parliament, only to have yet another election after Gomery issued his report.

It also made sense to stave off an election then, because parliament can accomplish a lot in a year. But when now you say, "The issue right now is: can this Parliament produce anything that is important to Canadians in the next number of weeks?" I have to laugh. Any promises you secure now aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Obviously, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. You're either playing into the Conservatives and the Bloc's hands, or you're playing into the Liberals' hands. But while your current if-then position gives you a lot of airtime, I don't think it's helping your party or your platform.

It’s time to drop the writ or get off the pot. Your first option is to say: "Gomery's second report details his recommendations. Those can apply and should be adopted by any government. We now know 'Who is responsible?' The corrupt Liberals. If we're going to have an election over that issue -- and Paul Martin has promised that we will -- we should do it now, not when it is most convenient for the Liberals. Parliament is stalemated mess without a mandate. We're just spinning our wheels now, wasting everyone's time. Let’s go."

Or, alternately, you could say, "Look. We said we would wait for Gomery to report and there is still a report to come. We are in the middle of working on a number of projects important to Canadians and we don't see the point in dropping it all to call an election right now just so the Conservatives and the Bloc can capitalize on a dip in the polls. An election is coming."

I would suggest the first option, because this second Gomery report business seems like a bit of a sham and I really think whatever work you get done now will be moot. Joining with the Conservatives and the Bloc to topple the government will also will make you look tough on corruption and waste, which, let's face it, is not what people think of when they think of the NDP -- fair or unfair as that perception may be.

Either way, you've got to drop this if-then posture. It's hurting you outside of your base and making you look like Dithers Jr.



[What will Jack Layton do? Tune in to a television at 12:45 to find out. I'm going to guess more waffling.]

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