I'd love to go into a big long policy discussion debating the merits of spending money on corporate tax cuts versus affordable housing, public transit, post-secondary education and foreign aid . Honestly, I think this is a huge improvement on the budget and the areas where Layton is redirecting money are areas money should be spent (notice how Jack didn't say "throw it all into healthcare"). But, let's be perfectly honest - it ain't gonna make a difference. With Chuck Cadman hinting he'll vote against the government and both sick Tory MPs declaring themselves able to make it to Ottawa, this government is likely to go down before the budget is passed. And I have a sneaking suspicion that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is unlikely to keep 1.6 billion for affordable housing while the eight car garages of Canadian CEOs remain half empty.
So, let's assume the government falls and look at the fallout of this deal from a purely political perspective.
NDP: For years the NDP has been nothing more than that collection of Shakespeare books in your bookcase that you never read; no real purpose and mostly for show. But people are finally reading the Bard! The NDP is...gasp...relevant! I know, I'm as shocked as you to realize this. I can only imagine how giddy NDP supporters must feel to be making a difference (well, in theory) on the national stage. This deal works for Layton on a few levels:
1) It makes him seen as a real player and gets him a ton of media exposure
2) It shows people a vote for the NDP is not a wasted vote
3) It gets his message out there. He supports education, the environment, and affordable housing over corporate tax cuts. That's not a bad message.
4) It shows he's trying to make Parliament work.
5) It shows he's against an early election.
The only real drawback is that he might be seen as propping up the Liberals and it gives Harper full control of the sponsorship issue. It'll be harder for Layton to argue the Liberals don't have the "moral authority" to govern when he's supporting them.
Liberals: The good for Paulie is it may put off a spring election. But even if we go to the polls this spring, there's some good in this:
1) Having the "moral conscience" of Parliament support your government is a big plus when the next election will be fought on corruption.
2) The Liberals will be seen as moving left which might bring back some disgruntled Bloc and Dipper voters to the fold.
3) Martin will be able to talk up the unholy alliance of Stephen Harper and Jean La...I mean, Gilles Ducceppe.
But, there are some drawbacks:
1) Martin will be seen as trying to buy his way out of an election.
2) Having Jack Layton set the agenda will not help dispel the perception that Martin is a pushover.
3) The business community will not be amused.
Conservatives: For Harper, this is likely about as appealing as a candid Randy White tell-all press conference. Harper will be seen as the one bringing down the government and he'll be seen as the one working with the Bloc to do it. And with campaign finance laws in place, having Bay Street turn on Martin won't make much of a difference.
Bloc: Quoi? Quelle deal?