Michael Ignatieff, for whom this corner has not historically carried a torch, has had a very good hour. First he put Stephen Harper on a leash. Then, all by himself, Jack Layton went out on a limb and energetically sawed the branch off behind himself.

Jack Layton’s best five months in Ottawa began on the night in 2005 when he announced, alone among opposition leaders, that he wanted to “make this Parliament work.” He extorted concrete policy concessions from the Liberals, avoided a hasty election, made Stephen Harper look like a cranky obstructionist, demonstrated the utility of a vote for the NDP. Today he decided to do none of that. Layton demonstrated there is no conceivable action by this government  that he will support. He can’t afford an election. He has lost his coalition partner. And after running the 2006 election against the Liberals and the 2008 election as a putative prime minister, he has marginalized his party well away from real decisions about power.