UPDATED: Behind the scenes at PMO: Wait, so this wasn’t Ryan Sparrow’s fault?

According to Don Martin, the fateful – and possibly fatal, at least for the government – decision to take advantage of the fiscal update to declare war on the public financing system may have been the result of an error in judgement by an overzealous, overtired …. Prime Minister? Hang on, that can’t be right, can it? And yet: 

[…]Stephen Harper has to wear this political mess himself. He personally ordered the incendiary paragraph inserted into Thursday’s fiscal update, ignored warnings from his own MPs who felt it was a lousy idea and clearly under-estimated his opponents’ resolve to defend their cash at any political price. 

Which puts a whole new slant on the rumours of rancour and recrimination around the caucus room, doesn’t it?

It would certainly explain why the guilty party hasn’t yet been marched out of Langevin for a political perp walk. 

Also, having now seen this particular talking point trotted out approximately nineteen thousand times in the last 24 hours – including a record-breaking effort by Ezra Levant on CTV News last night, where he managed to work it into every single response, sometimes more than once in the same sentence – I have to ask: Is there any reason at all to think that either Jack Layton or Bob Rae would get the Finance gig in a coalition government — or, frankly, that either of them would even want it?

I mean, seriously, think about it: given the economic meltdown currently in progress, would someone who harbours the hope of running for the top job sometime in the foreseeable future — which both Layton and Rae, as it happens, do — really want to be the political figure most closely associated with the budget during such a bleak era? It doesn’t just not make sense, it makes negative sense. In fact, its very existence – and the fact that even some otherwise intelligent columnists are apparently willing to buy into it, if only for a catchy lede – may well send us into a sense deficit, and in these uncertain times, can we really afford that? 

Anyway, pending even a shred of actual evidence that such a possibility is under consideration, ITQ’s advice is dismiss the whole notion as nothing more than desparate fantasy on the part of the attack ad writers at Conservative Research Group. It’s about as credible as the idea of Justice Minister Myron Thompson or Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Anders, or any of the other nightmare scenario Conservative cabinet choices that were floated out during the 2004 election. (Okay, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day did happen, but he actually turned out to be a surprisingly good choice.) If we actually do end up with an NDP/Liberal coalition, it’ll most likely be Finance Minister John McCallum — or possibly Ralph Goodale —  and Jack Layton as deputy PM, which doesn’t make for nearly as effective a scare tactic.

UPDATE: The Montreal Gazette’s Elizabeth Thompson has the full slate of official talking points, courtesy of the ever-helpful Conservative Party. So if you’re listening to talk radio, and wonder why the fourth caller in a row seems to be using exactly the same words to describe his or her outrage — an example: “Sure, it bothers me that parties Canadians rejected are trying to seize power through the back door” — you’ll know why. (For fun, try to spot ’em in the comment threads here at!)

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