It was barely a month ago that the Harper Conservatives were returned to government with a strengthened minority and politicians of all stripes were pledging to work together to steer Canada through the global financial storm. But after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered an economic update yesterday that promised to end pay-equity programs, suspend federal employees’ right to strike, and eliminate the subsidy for political parties (a move that would financially cripple the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc, but not the Conservatives), all three opposition leaders declared that either the Tories would have to blink or the government falls.
Although defeating the government usually entails a trip to the polls, it looks like the Conservatives’ opponents are considering banding together in a coalition instead of dragging Canadians into a fourth election in as many years. According to reports, former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent are holding talks today on the feasibility of a Liberal–New Democrat government, a sign that such a coalition is a serious possibility and not just a progressive pipe dream. And who would be prime minister in that situation? Jack Layton has apparently ruled out Stéphane Dion as PM, which means that the Liberal caucus could be forced into prematurely ending the Grit leadership race and immediately handing the crown to one of the frontrunners, namely Michael Ignatieff or Bob Rae.
A prime minister from Toronto leading a united centre-left government? What a sight that would be.
Photo by Steph & Adam.