After having enabled a possible lifeline to the embattled Prime Minister and a Liberal Party swimming in corruption, Jack Layton defended his alliance with Paul Martin last night by claiming that getting his budget preferences passed outweighed the cost of leaving corruption in place for another seven or eight months:
Mr. Layton said it is clear there will be an election on the corruption issue either next month or in “seven or eight” months, but that he hopes to accomplish something through the budget in the meantime.
“We’ll say [in an election] that we worked for the people while all the other parties were just taking care of their own business to their own advantage. Ordinary people will make their own decisions and I’m quite confident that what we’re doing now will help us,” he said.
If the NDP leader thinks that allowing the party that stole hundreds of millions of tax dollars from the Canadian treasury to remain in power amounts to “work[ing] for the people,” I’d say that the NDP should prepare for their 19 seats as a historical high-water mark. Their small base may have a soft spot for high taxes and government spending, but they don’t have one for selling out to corruption. If Layton found a thief in his business, embezzling thousands of dollars, would he tolerate keeping him employed for seven or eight months because he didn’t like the composition of the labor pool available to replace him? Or even more to the point, would Layton allow that embezzler to stay around because he agreed to bring in more money than he steals?
It’s not as if Layton defends the Liberals on the corruption point, either. He acknowledges the corruption, but claims it pales in comparison to developing an NDP-friendly budget:
Mr. Layton said he is fully expecting accusations that he is supporting a corrupt Liberal government, but said his party will be voting in favour of a good budget, not the Liberals.
Mr. Layton said NDP voters expect his party to make sure the Liberals deliver on their promises.
“I know that there will be people who will say, ‘Ah, yeah, that’s Layton. He loves corruption. The NDP, they just love corruption. They’re really corrupt themselves because they support the Liberals.’ That’s a totally ridiculous accusation. We’re helping people. We’re opposed to corruption,” he said.
Perhaps Layton never heard the poem that reads in part, You can tell the man who boozes by the company he chooses — and the NDP has chosen its company, and named its price. Layton has tricked out his caucus to direct $4.6 billion in more taxpayer money into control of a Liberal government that has already proven itself unworthy of trust. And Layton speaks of ensuring that the current Liberal government keeps its promises? As much as Layton wants to spin this, the political machination involved is much too obvious: Layton saw an opportunity to score the tax hikes he wanted and sold out the already-victimized Canadians to get it.
Stephen Harper had a more clear-eyed view than his NDP counterpart on the transaction:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who is campaigning in Southwestern Ontario this week, said the deal was nothing more than an attempt to bury the sponsorship scandal with billions of dollars from the public treasury.
“I guess my first response is Mr. Martin and Mr. Layton think $4.6-billion worth of taxpayers’ money is the price to make corruption go away,” Mr. Harper said during a break from a late-afternoon fundraiser.
“I wonder if the taxpayers of Canada are going to think the same thing.”
Somehow, I rather doubt it. Layton may have scored a short-term budget victory, but he has now married the NDP to the Adscam corruption and any other scandals yet to come from the Martin government.