It was very interesting to see the opposition parties react to today's budget. In the past you could count on the "Progressive Reform Alliance of Conservatives" to scream the budget was too far left and the "Nouveau Bloc Democratique" to complain the budget was too far right. The end result? Everyone sees the Liberals as the party in the middle. This time, the story was completely different.
You had Stephen Harper coming as close to happy as he's physically capable of looking. "A marvelous budget! Just smashing!" he gushed. "Monte couldn't have done a better job himself!"
Then, Gilles Ducceppe and Jack Layton got up and huffed and puffed about the Liberals not working with them. Now, Gilles Ducceppe hates Canada and would scoff at the budget if Goodale announced a 10 billion dollar transfer to Quebec. But Layton's talking points were very interesting. He talked about how Martin convinced left-wing voters to vote for him last election and that he's now betrayed them.
So what does this all mean? Well, to me, it looks like an absolutely brilliant strategy from the opposition parties. I think we can all agree that Martin "won" the last election by convincing voters that Stephen Harper was a scary, scary man. I think it's also not a stretch to say that the few times the Conservatives have had success since World War 1 has been when they've offered "Liberal Government without Liberals". With Martin set to move left on Same Sex marriage and Missile Defense, it's imperative that the opposition parties convince Canadians that there's no difference between him and Stephen Harper. The Conservatives need this if Harper ever wants to become Prime Minister, and the Nouveau Bloc Democratique needs this so that their voters aren't scared into voting for Martin to stop Harper.
When the attack adds against Stephen Harper start next election, Jack Layton will be able to stand up and say that the Liberals gave Canada a Conservative budget and that there's no difference between Martin and Harper. Harper meanwhile will be able to subtly imply that there's little difference between him and Martin. I think voters are looking for an excuse to boot Paul, and if Harper doesn't look too scary, they'll make the switch.