How cute: Harper and Layton are back in love!

There are moments where the political rhetoric is forced to accept an emerging probability. The last time the threat of an election moved from theory to practical reality, the NDP did a bear hug on an already floated Conservative plank on unemployment, adopted it as their own, and essentially propped up the government to avoid an election. The previous stature, CUSHIONED by perceived Liberal weakness, evaporated once the political jockeying moved from inside Ottawa to potential election.

In the last few days, the Liberals have signalled they won’t support the budget. This early posture has heightened the chances of an election. The Liberals provocative move has also flushed out the other players it would appear, and I would argue should force a sober re-think on just where we are politically speaking. The Conservatives are SUDDENLY playing footsie with the NDP again. Of secondary importance is whether the overture bears fruit, it’s the fact the government is trying to build alliances, to avoid an election, TELLING and quite informative, denoting a reality beyond the current Ottawa narrative:

Tories soften tone with NDP ahead of 2011 budget

The Conservatives are suddenly saying nice things about Jack Layton and the NDP, a party they once dismissed as irresponsible socialists… 

Mr. Soudas’s e-mail included a note regarding the NDP Leader: “Mr. Layton has written a letter to the Prime Minister asking the government to invite Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to Canada. We thank Mr. Layton for his positive contribution to this matter…” 

Last week, in a year-end interview with the Reuters news agency, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty spoke of the “common ground” that exists between Tories and New Democrats.

The Finance Minister said he had met separately with Liberal finance critic Scott Brison and NDP finance critic Tom Mulcair. Mr. Flaherty said it was clear from his chat with the Liberal critic that “I guess they’ll vote against the budget.” 

But Mr. Flaherty suggested there’s a better chance of agreement with the NDP, particularly on programs to train workers.

“That doesn’t mean they’ll support the budget, but it does mean there’s some common ground,” he was quoted as saying in reference to his discussion with Mr. Mulcair.

Again, it is hard to imagine these two parties can agree on a budget passage, but just the EFFORT is what we should focus on. I mean, here we have a Liberal Party which is apparently on the verge of complete collapse, tired, a horrible leader, and yet the government isn’t ready to pounce and take advantage of their HAPLESS foe? Are they not reading some of these polls? What about the cluster strategy, all these theories that make it seem like a majority is actually in their grasp? Seems a bit of a disconnect here, between what everyone is assuming and the real world reactions now starting to unfold. If I’m just look at actions, rather than rhetoric or pundit analysis, I’d dare say this looks like a government that sort of fears an election. Why? Maybe more vulnerable than people are entertaining.

A hint perhaps, today’s AR poll shows a superficial advantage for the Conservatives over the Liberals on the economic file, sure to be the centerpiece issue of any near term campaign. However- and this dynamic may explain the apparent government unease- there are more people undecided than support the government, there are more people who want to see the policies during a campaign before they make up their mind. In other words, there is nothing certain. People already know the government’s agenda, the wait and see crowd clearly a concern when face with a not yet know opponent and policies.

I am marvelling at how quickly this government has pivoted, actively looking to avoid an election. I expect a big move on the Quebec HST file to secure Bloc support. It also looks like the government is entertaining a backup plan, via the NDP. Whatever, quite telling that this government is suddenly involved with separatists and socialists. At the very least, real world machinations demand a reassessment in current thought processes, because this doesn’t look like a juggernaut on the cusp of anything, except perceived relative setbacks, outright vulnerability. Whether we have a spring election or not, it would appear the government will only come kicking and screaming… Imagine that. 

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