Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada, addressed the nation last night on national television and radio. The precedents for this sort of action are, in 1995, pre-Quebec Sovereignty Referendum, before that, the Meech Lake Accord crisis with Mulroney… going way back, the imposition of the War Measures Act by Trudeau… there may have been a few in between.. but you get the idea. Traditionally Prime Ministers don’t *do* this sort of thing in Canada unless there is a real crisis.
Last night we witnessed a crisis. But it was not a Canadian crisis. It was a Liberal Party one… while I think Martins’ message was reasonable… I don’t think he fooled anyone. We all know that this was an act of desperation. We all know he’s just buying time for his party. We saw the fear in his eyes last night… like the Opposition parties, we could smell the blood.
Stephen Harper (leader of the CPC) wants an election, but doesn’t want to scare away the electorate. It’s obvious that he’s just getting his ducks in a row before he decides to pull the plug.
Gilles Duceppe (leader of the BQ) was practically foaming at the mouth… he knew that if there was an election in Quebec tomorrow he could take every seat.
Then there was Jack Layton…
Yes, he had the same message as the other opposition parties.. but he said something very strange and different. He actually talked about what the government could be doing. He talked about his party’s policy. He talked about the role the NDP has traditionally played in minorities.
In short.. he talked about governing.
I have never thought this before… but dare I say Jack Layton actually struck me as a man ready to govern, ready to lead, ready to be Prime Minister if the stars were aligned just so?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s no way in heck that the NDP could ever form a government let alone a majority… and it’d probably be a disaster if they did… but I think that last night Jack Layton did more in one night to convince people to vote NDP than at any other time in recent memory.
So, while Paul Martin did little to save himself… Jack Layton may have ensured that the Liberals stay in power, at least in minority, which is the best situation anyway… through the next election.