The Coalition of the Credulous

I don’t know what’s more impressive about this: the cynicism or the naivete

A budding coalition between New Democrats, the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Liberals is an exercise in nation building, NDP Leader Jack Layton told his caucus in a conference call covertly recorded by the government.

Layton’s national unity musings were secretly recorded Saturday by the Conservatives. They held the tape for a day and then had an official from the Prime Minister’s Office deliver it to various media on Sunday.

“The ‘Coalition for Canada,’ I love the idea – (but it) could be a deal-breaker for the Bloc,” Layton is heard saying to laughter.

“‘The Coalition for Canada and Quebec?”‘ he adds, to more laughter.

Layton, however, appears deadly serious when he pitches the coalition as a potentially unifying force in federal politics.

“Nothing could be better for our country than to have the 50 (BQ) members out of 75 who’ve been elected in Quebec actually helping to make Canada a better place. We just approach it on that basis and say, ‘We’re willing to make that happen. Here are the things we’re going to be investing in and transforming together.’

“If they’re willing to work with us, we’re willing to accept that offer.”

Let’s be clear. It was wrong of the Tories to listen in on the NDP conference call, wronger still to tape it, even if we believe their story that they were inadvertently given the code for the call. That crosses the line, from hardball to creepy — if not CREEPy. (I know we in the media do this sort of thing all the time, but is that the standard we want to hold elected officeholders to — the media’s?) That they then released the transcript is at best ill-advised, in a week in which they are being universally reviled as ruthless opportunists.

But lordy. Could Layton sound like a bigger maroon? (Do the deal if you must, but do it with your eyes open.) As for the Liberals, do they really want to get into bed with this bunch? Mainstream Grits should think hard — very hard — about where this is taking their party.

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