I've been troubled by nagging doubt ever since the "coalition" of opposition parties idea surfaced. Layton hatched the venture with Duceppe and then laid it at Dion's feet? Here, Stephane, sign this and we'll make you prime minister.
If I was able to believe that Layton was truly acting for the good of Canada, that is to stop Harper, rather than to advance the political ambitions of Jack Layton, the idea of a Liberal-NDP coalition seems reasonable. But, when you try to ascertain a person's intentions what choice is there except to revisit that person's record?
A coalition is premised on an essential level of trust and I've never found Layton particularly trustworthy. Dippers will disagree with this but, as far as I'm concerned, Stephen Harper was shoehorned into power by Layton and, since then, Jack's been driven by an obsession to become the first NDP leader of the opposition.
To me, Jack Layton is as relentless and unprincipled in his quest to advance his personal political ambitions as Stephen Harper. He's cut from a different cloth than predecessors like David Lewis and Ed Broadbent and it leaves me awfully leery of the guy.
Of course the decision about the future of the coalition isn't mine, it's Michael Ignatieff's and his caucus members'. I don't believe Ignatieff should be bound by any deal inked by his predecessor while Mr. Dion was only an interim party leader on his way out.
If Layton still wants a coalition, it's up to him to sell the deal to Michael Ignatieff and I think it's not only Ignatieff's prerogative but his duty to his Party, his caucus and the Canadian people to make his own assessment of the current conditions and weigh them in deciding the merits of the coalition. If Ignatieff is amenable to a coalition, let him negotiate the terms that would be acceptable to him.
Layton, like Harper, is quick to spot and exploit an opportunity, a weakness. Just what was the weakness Layton spotted in coming up with the coalition idea? Was it a Tory vulnerability, or a Liberal weakness - or was it both?
I wish I could trust Jack Layton, but I can't.