It's designed to put the political timetable for the rest of the year in the hands of the Liberals and not incidentally, to utterly humiliate Harper - I don't see him doing anything but biting his lip and accepting it though. Might be worth tuning into CPAC to see that little vein pulse in his forehead.
11:20:02 AM Alright, so we’ve got the statement - which is short if not particularly sweet, and the upshot of which is that the Liberals will introduce an amendment to ensure that the government is “held accountable for its promises” - and adds, “We are putting this government on probation.” Yes, your guess is as good as mine as far as what that means, but here’s the nugget of ooh, that may actually be clever: regular reports to Parliament - in March, June and December - any of which will be a confidence motion.
I think its a mistake. I agree with Scott Reid's argument from a month and a half ago, that given an opportunity to remove Harper from Canadian politics permanently it's folly to pass it up and tax cuts still make lousy stimulus, so that's 20 billion wasted with the added downside of restricting future progressive governance when interest rates and deficits start rising in tandem again.
But Liberals got a honeymoon poll bounce from their leadership change - the prospect of a leader who can out-bastard Harper appeals to some - and have acquired some beer muscles. Ignatieff still talks about the coalition as if it were one more weapon in his arsenal of threats to be kept on standby as long its useful to the Liberal Party - it's up to Layton now to make it clear that isn't the case.
The only question now is if Harper will accept the humiliation of being forced to behave like he has...horrors!...a minority rather than a defacto majority.
UPDATE: Jack won't support the amendment and it can't pass without the NDP. Will Ignatieff accept the budget without the leash?
12:09:13 PM Okay, so the upshot is: No, he won’t support this amendment, and it is a ’sad day’ what with Ignatieff providing a ‘fig leaf’ to the government.