Before everyone jumps in with their opinion on this, I'm going on record to say this plan is extremelly clever and it will work.
I still think Harper blew a golden chance by not going straight for the jugular, but Layton's timing works well for the opposition parties for several reasons:
1. It moves the vote up nearly two months, limiting the dissipating of Adscam anger.
2. They won't get blamed for triggering a Christmas election.
3. They won't get blamed for disrupting Paul's agenda.
4. The vote will likely be timed to be within a week or two of Gomery's second report. Although that report won't be damning, it will remind people of Adscam, giving the issue life down the homestretch of the campaign.
5. This will also prevent Martin from saying "why don't we wait for Gomery" - because the final report will be out by the time the vote occurs.
6. Most importantly, it won't allow Goodale to bring forward a budget before the vote.
Because Layton is framing it as a choice between an election over Christmas and a vote in February, I suspect most Canadians will see it as a reasonable compromise. And, because of that, it will be very difficult for Martin not to go along with it. Since the motion Layton will introduce on the 24th won't be an explicit non-confidence motion, I suspect the vote won't be binding. But will all the media attention that's sure to follow the vote, Martin really won't have an option but to accept it. And, if by some chance, he refuses to accept the vote, the stage would be set for the opposition parties to bring down the government on December 8th, or on their next opposition day, with all the blame resting squarely on Paul's shoulders.
While election speculation has been changing on an almost nightly basis over the past week, I'm fairly confident to say that we're heading towards a February vote. I really can't see this plan not being put into effect.