Harper overplayed his hand – that’s what launched this mess.
Then there was an opportunity on the part of the opposition to not be greedy. They could have demand a better stimulus package and Harper’s resignation in exchange for not bringing down the government. I believe it was viable option. But that window is closing fast – if it is still open. Dion was too inept and, once again, proved unable to understand that he was in a position of weakness – he will now likely be remembered not as a tragic, stoic figure and more likely as simply inept and stubborn. It isn’t fair – but it is hard to see him being remembered otherwise.
Layton won’t lose his job – but his party should consider bouncing him. The NDP overplayed its hand in the same manner that Dion did. Layton’s drive for power (and relevancy) meant the NDP didn’t push for splitting Harper from his caucus and trying to just take the leader down. A Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition was always going to be tenuous – the opportunity for any party to defect in order to gain political advantage would have made it highly unstable, and unpopular. Moreover, after Layton brought down the house in 2006 I’m not sure many Liberals see Layton as someone who they can work with – further increasing any coalitions instability.
Indeed, I only thought the opposition announced they were going to bring down the house in order to achieve negotiating leverage to demand Harper’s resignation. Now I don’t know what they were thinking. I suspect that Layton, DIon and Harper could all be gone within 12 months. Each party (except the bloc) is going to need to blame someone for these series of fiascoes – given how centralized decision making has become, it’s hard to believe it won’t be the leaders. That said, I say Harper has the best odds of survival.
Finally, Simpson nails it with the fact that the Bloc are the only clear winners. There job is simple: stay relevant. Doesn’t matter who they are working with or against, as long as they have some excuse to be in Ottawa, they win. It was a big week for them.