Friday, November 04, 2005

The Don Takes His Time

Stephen Harper has actually caught a break, for once. Don Laytone's delayed decision on the proposed Liberal healthcare plan has allowed him to put his Accountability Act notions on the media front burner, and keep them there.

If the Don had made a decision, one way or the other, there's no doubt it would have seriously damaged Harper's attempts to get his reform proposals out onto the public agenda. And Harper's leadership would, again, be put into doubt because he couldn't command the agenda. But not now. Now, Harper can encourage the pundits to ponder his proposals over the weekend while the New Democrats sit ... and think.

Triggering an election is of course a serious decision. If Layton sides with the Opposition to bring down the government, he has to believe that the New Democrats will derive some benefit, in the form of increased representation. The opinion poll trends for the NDP, while more stable than the Tories', have not been all that encouraging either.

On the other hand, if he gives the Liberals his support in exchange for health care reforms, he needs to have some hope that said reform will be carried out. He's not naive enough to believe that the Liberals will swallow the NDP line on health care, and whatever commitments he's received from them are probably the ones that they can guarantee to be carried out. In short, whatever they gave him is the best the NDP can hope to accomplish in terms of concrete health care reform. Is it enough?

Heavy thoughts to ponder over the weekend. But at least it might get him out of raking the leaves ...